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NC Immigrants Impacted By Controversial Bill

Legislation awaiting Gov. Pat McCrory's signature or veto could change the forms of ID that law enforcement are allowed to accept, and increase the number of arrests of people lacking identification, which police say is a bad use of resources. Credit: hallshadow/morguefile.com
Legislation awaiting Gov. Pat McCrory's signature or veto could change the forms of ID that law enforcement are allowed to accept, and increase the number of arrests of people lacking identification, which police say is a bad use of resources. Credit: hallshadow/morguefile.com
October 5, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. – There is growing pressure on Gov. Pat McCrory to veto legislation that would impact a variety of populations in the state, including immigrants and migrant workers.

House Bill 318, which supporters call the Protect North Carolina Workers Act, would prevent local police from accepting multiple forms of ID during a traffic stop.

Lori Khamala, NC Immigrant Rights Program coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, says law enforcement is concerned about the impact of this legislation.

AFSC is one of the organizations that opposes the bill

"If we limit the kind of ID that law enforcement can accept, there's going to be more and more people funneled into jail, and that is not a good use of anybody's resources," Khamala points out.

Currently in Greensboro, there is a program to accept community-issued IDs, and organizers of the program estimate it has saved the equivalent of two full-time police officers' salaries in the form of unnecessary arrests for the lack of ID.

Supporters of the legislation argue it ensures the state is upholding immigration law.

An amendment passed in a different bill could allow law enforcement to accept some forms of ID, but the specifics of the new policy are unclear.

The legislation also would prevent municipalities from adopting sanctuary city policies, which when in place enable communities to opt against following federal immigration enforcement.

But Khamala says it could have some unintended consequences for members of the community who also have difficulty securing a government-issued ID.

"This bill is very problematic, not only for immigrant families who often have trouble getting legally recognized forms of ID, but also for the elderly and for homeless individuals," she stresses.

House Bill 318 also could impact SNAP benefit for more than 100,000 North Carolinians.

Groups including the AFL—CIO, are calling on the governor to veto the bill.



Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC