McCrory draws fire after signing bill targeting immigrants, food stamp recipients

By: - October 29, 2015 4:00 am
McCrory-HouseBill 318
Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

On Wednesday, Governor Pat McCrory signed the Protect NC Workers Act saying the bill would outlaw sanctuary cities and emphasize the value of work.

North Carolina is standing up for the rule of law, which is central to North Carolina values and our country’s values,” said Governor McCrory. “Public safety officials must have the flexibility and tools to investigate crimes and sanctuary city policies deprive law enforcement of those tools.”

House Bill 318 also forbids the use of consulate documents to determine a person’s identity while requiring state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system. Another provision of the law places new restrictions on jobless workers’ ability to receive food aid.

Critics call the legislation dangerous, harmful, and unnecessary.

The ACLU of North Carolina believes HB 318 will only encourage discrimination:

“By making it harder for people to identify themselves to government officials, discouraging undocumented people from reporting crime, and banning local governments from passing measures aimed at improving public safety, this law makes all North Carolinians less safe,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Immigrants play important roles in our communities and economy. Laws like this encourage discrimination, send the message that North Carolina is unwelcoming, and make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their job keeping all members of the community safe.”

The NC Justice Center says the measure makes North Carolina seem like “a hostile place for newcomers of all identities”

We are also deeply disturbed by how this bill limits jobless workers’ ability to receive food assistance. This could affect up to 100,000 North Carolinians and their broader communities, most of which are rural. The bill would permanently prevent North Carolina from waiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s benefit time limit. This time limit applies regardless of whether these individuals are actually able to find employment or training opportunities. The end of current waivers will come at a time when 77 counties qualify for the waivers due to a significant lack of jobs.

Angeline Echeverría, the Executive Director of El Pueblo, explains in an opinion piece:

…this bill eliminate[s] a common sense policy solution that municipalities throughout the country have adopted as a beneficial way to facilitate greater immigrant integration in local communities. Municipal ID cards and consular documents are some of the most practical means of identification for immigrant community members, and municipalities like Greensboro have cited their effectiveness in increasing efficiency within the Police, Water Resources, and Parks & Recreation Departments. HB 318 would put a strain on government by invalidating these documents and forcing local officials to dedicate precious resources to deciphering the implementation of this bill and its potential impact on procedures affecting everything from the issuance of birth certificates, school enrollment, and applications for marriage licenses.

…the prohibition on “sanctuary cities” will adversely affect local government autonomy and resources. While many in the General Assembly vocally support the ideals of limited state intervention in local government, this legislation will keep towns and cities from making their own decisions on the extent to which they choose to dedicate local resources, such as officers and jails, to federal immigration enforcement policies. State governments are under no obligation to enforce laws that are exclusively federal in nature, such as immigration. Removing the ability of local municipalities to make the perfectly legal decision to not use their own taxpayers’ money to enforce federal programs disrupts law enforcement agencies’ ability to set their own priorities for community safety. This provision certainly does not protect workers or our state’s economy by encouraging local officials to help deport immigrant community members: according to the Perryman Group, if all unauthorized immigrants leave North Carolina, the state would lose $14.5 billion in economic activity, $6.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 101,414 permanent jobs.

The North Carolina State AFL-CIO calls the new law anti-worker:

Governor McCrory has signed a law, H.B. 318, that will starve people struggling to find work, will make it harder for local police and local governments to protect and serve the public, and will make it easier than ever for criminals and unscrupulous employers to exploit immigrant workers,” said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO. “Signing an abusive law dishonestly named the ‘Protect North Carolina Workers Act’ is proof for any voter who still needed it that their governor cannot be trusted to defend working people.”

And Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“North Carolina, much like the rest of our nation, is at a crossroads: We can continue to ostracize and criminalize vital members of our communities, or we can work together to come up with inclusive policies that make us all safer, healthier, and better able to use essential services when needed. We – along with those elected to represent us – must move past the hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric that spurs legally questionable legislation and instead get to work on solutions that move our communities forward together.”

Advocates for immigrant families and various grassroots groups are planning a 3:00 p.m. rally Thursday outside the Governor’s mansion to voice their opposition to HB 318. Learn more about that action here.

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Clayton Henkel
Clayton Henkel

Communications Coordinator Clayton Henkel manages the NC Newsline website and daily newsletter, while also producing daily audio commentaries and the weekly News and Views radio program/podcast.