North Carolina’s revived bill widens divide on undocumented immigrants

Immigrants play integral contributions to North Carolina’s diverse population. A recent American Immigration Council report shows that out of the state’s entire immigrant community, 39% accounts for undocumented immigrants. However, a revived bill directed at immigrants illegally staying in the country is now the center of a highly disputed debate.

House Bill 10, titled “Require Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE,” is part of a series of bills filed in the North Carolina General Assembly. It requires the state’s sheriffs to cooperate with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in reporting an individual with citizenship in question. This process means that sheriffs need to comply with detainer requests for potentially deportable individuals within 48 hours until ICE picks them up. It also forces local authorities to search the status of immigrants jailed for violent crimes.

With the bill passing the state Senate on its first reading, shedding light on its implications on law enforcement and public morale proves paramount.

A letter seeking to defeat the bill

Eleven sheriffs wrote to legislators expressing their opposition to the new bill due to the following reasons:

  • Uncompensated extra jail work for county staff already in financial distress
  • A culture of fear-mongering tied with possible immigration screening
  • Damaged public trust and willingness to report crimes
  • Inability to release eligible individuals on bail due to federal government request or instruction

These sheriffs declined compliance due to potential liability, even if the mistake may be at the federal level.

More immigrant-targeted bills

There are other bills lined up for consideration that magnify the vulnerability of the immigrant populace.

  • House Bill 64: imposing a 4% tax fee for wire transfers sent to support loved ones back home
  • House Bill 63: state licensing boards acting like immigration agencies to validate if the status of individuals permits them to practice in their chosen fields
  • House Bill 167: restricting access to driver’s licenses and banning foreign identification cards altogether as legitimate documents

Advocate groups contend that these legislations undermine democracy. On the other side, supporters argue that this is an additional public safety blanket.

Hitting close to home

Before you know it, this new legislation may hit the core of your identity. Your lack of solid legal defense may be the only thing standing between you and the possibility of building a home away from home without immigration woes.

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