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NC Senate Votes To Crack Down On Immigrant 'Sanctuary Cities'

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrest.
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the most recent action from the state Legislature.  

Republican lawmakers in the state Senate have passed a provision that would allow the state to withhold school and road funding from cities, towns and counties that don't comply with state immigration laws. The change would also prohibit local governments from issuing their own identification cards to people who are in the country without papers. The bill goes back to the House for an up or down vote.

"We have to do something to get immigration under control," said Sen. Ronald Rabin (R-Harnett, Johnston, Lee).  "If we don't control it, we lose our sovereignty and our ability to function as a nation."

Democrats said the bill will make it harder for law enforcement officials to police immigrant communities because some departments have come to rely on locally-issued IDs.

"It has helped them [law enforcement] to really protect our communities and make communities safer," said Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford). She said it allows law enforcement to identify undocumented immigrants during traffic stops or other incidents and makes immigrants more comfortable reporting crimes to the police.

"It's a mean, ugly bill," Robinson said. "If the intent is to protect our communities, then our law enforcement people are the experts. And I would think that we would trust their expertise in terms of deciding how best to do that."

Republicans said the locally-issued IDs are not legitimate.

"When I have new neighbors, we bring them a pie. We don't give them a fake ID," said Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson). "That's what this is: this is an effort to stop fake IDs."

The measure directs the state attorney general to investigate any report, including anonymous reports, that a municipality is not complying with state immigration laws. If the attorney general finds the local government is not in compliance, the state could withhold millions of dollars in funds for school buildings and roads.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
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