Cities and universities in North Carolina may face financial penalties if they flout federal immigration laws if legislators manage to add teeth to an existing law, passed last session, that requires local governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
If passed the bill would add financial penalties to municipalities and counties that fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the form of lost Powell Bill funding and revenue from certain state taxes.
A couple of bills have been filed during this session regarding the law on sanctuary cities, one of those bills, SB145, “Government Immigration Compliance” has been filed by Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico. On the Friday March 3 “What Matters in North Carolina” podcast, Sanderson said last session’s HB318 was a good start, but does not include penalties for cities that violate federal laws on sanctuary cities.
Sanderson stressed that, “Like most citizens of this country, I have no problem with immigrants at all. But, I do want those immigrants to come here in some form of legal fashion. And I think that’s what most people want.”
Another point he acknowledged was because the process for becoming a legal immigrant is so difficult that people find it easier to come here illegally.
Sanderson said, “Some cities are really challenging this ruling about sanctuary cities. They are in open discussions with people in their communities about setting themselves up as sanctuary cities. It’s just something that we do not want to happen in North Carolina, so we introduced this bill.”
Per a statement released by the office of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), Sanderson’s bill requires the state attorney general to investigate complaints of a local government or law enforcement agency ignoring immigration law.
It also directs that all Powell funding for city streets, and revenue from beer and wine taxes, telecommunication taxes, sales taxes on video programming, taxes on piped natural gases and scrap tire disposal taxes be allocated to local governments that comply with the law.
Under the proposed law, a city that holds itself out as a sanctuary city could jeopardize those and other funds to the offending city.
Sanderson’s bill also impacts universities that do not comply with federal immigration laws by revoking certain appropriations to the non-complying university.
Another provision of Sanderson’s bill strengthens the E-verify system, adding harsher penalties for violations.
Sanderson said that the bill passed last session also left open the use of some community identification cards as acceptable, and that his bill would close those loopholes. These IDs are typically created by private organizations such as Greensboro’s Faith Action, which has issued thousands of these IDs to illegal immigrants.
Berger’s statement also said that these IDs can mislead law enforcement by giving the holder the false appearance of having legal status.
Rep. Harry Warren filed House Bill 63, which would also punish local governments if they don’t comply with federal immigration law, or if they hold themselves out as sanctuary cities. It does not address universities or mention community IDs.
Scott Mooneyham, Director of Public Affairs for the NC League of Municipalities said of both bills, “We think it would be unprecedented to penalize cities or towns for issues that are not related to what they are being penalized for. Since the sanctuary cities bill was passed in 2015, we are not aware of any public allegation of cites or towns violating that law.”
Warren’s bill was heard in the House Judiciary II Committee on March 7, and will be continued in that committee when it meets again. Sanderson’s bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.
Click here to hear the entire “What Matters in North Carolina” interview with Sen. Norman Sanderson.