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Raleigh Businesses Help Fight Bill Seen as Anti-Immigrant

Some people visited Raleigh businesses Thursday to hand-write letters outlining their opposition to legislation that allows local officers to enforce federal immigration law. (Trey Roberts)
Some people visited Raleigh businesses Thursday to hand-write letters outlining their opposition to legislation that allows local officers to enforce federal immigration law. (Trey Roberts)
February 9, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina State Senate is pushing ahead with legislation that would give state patrol officers the right to enforce federal immigration laws, but not without opposition.

Senate Bill 145 also threatens loss of funding to force the University of North Carolina system and local governments to provide a person's legal status to authorities.

On Thursday, some Raleigh businesses hosted letter-writing stations for customers to share their views about the bill with lawmakers.

An organizer against the bill, Trey Roberts, explains his concerns.

"It's not getting enough attention,” says Roberts. “It's already passed twice in the North Carolina Senate, and it will practically make patrol officers into immigration officers, and then, also violate students' FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) rights, which is their privacy."

The letters will be hand delivered to lawmakers by the ACLU of North Carolina.

Roberts adds if it passes, the bill allows anonymous tipsters to report undocumented immigrants and local governments that might not be following immigration law. The state attorney general would then be required to investigate every report, which opponents say could be costly.

Supporters of the bill say it would make it easier for the federal government to enforce existing laws.

The legislation passed the Senate last year and could come up for a vote in the House during this year's short session.

But Sarah Gillooly, director of political strategy and advocacy with the ACLU of North Carolina, says the bill creates more problems than it solves.

"SB 145 ultimately does nothing to make our communities safer or more secure in North Carolina,” she says. “What SB 145 does is create confusion and fear, and will jeopardize the rights of both immigrants and non-immigrants in North Carolina."

Roberts says on this issue or any other North Carolinians may feel passionate about, it's important to put pen to paper and write a letter.

"It's more effective than email,” he says. “Phone calls and writing hand-written letters are way more effective, because they don't get them as much. They can purge through those emails. It's more impactful to see that someone from your community is writing to you."

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC