Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
Its cities must comply with anti-immigrant state laws, or face the funding consequences.
North Carolina’s not done yet.
Even after the state passed HB2, its anti-LGBT bill that caused a national uproar and no small measure of economic and legal fallout for the state, its general assembly continues to churn out discriminatory legislation. On Monday, the state’s House passed a bill that blocks public access to police camera footage. On Tuesday, the Senate passed another bill, HB 100, which aims to hold school and road funds hostage if cities don’t comply with anti-immigrant state laws.
HB 100 sharpens the teeth of HB 318, which Governor Pat McCrory signed into law in 2015. That legislation was a swarming nest of policies explicitly targeting undocumented immigrants in the state. Via WRAL:
House Bill 318, dubbed the Protect North Carolina Workers Act, also requires state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of job applicants and contractors, bars government agencies or law enforcement from using consular or embassy documents to verify someone's identity or residence and limits food assistance for able-bodied, childless adults who are unemployed.
This new bill goes a couple of steps further. First, it seeks to put an end to a small exception in HB 318 that allowed local law enforcement to accept municipal or other forms of local identification if a person had no drivers license. So now, if HB 100 is signed into law, popular local ID programs in Greensboro and other cities would be outlawed. Leaders and community organizations from these cities have long argued that these alternate IDs make it easier for immigrant communities to approach local police for help, or help police find criminals. On Tuesday, the city of Carrboro’s mayor, Lydia Lavelle, clarified the intent of these programs at a press conference. From WNCN:
“For many of us, this is very political but for law enforcement, it’s about safety of our communities. The people who get these faith IDs are told and absolutely clear that this doesn’t provide them with driving privileges or some other ‘official’ status,” Lavelle said.
HB 100 also requires that court clerks record the legal status of anyone who asks to be excused from jury duty, and to make this information public. Finally, the bill lays out two avenues by which cities and local governments can be taken to task: Through the first process, anyone can make a complaint against a city they think has violated state law to the state’s Attorney General, whose office will then investigate the complaint. (Those making complaints do not have to identify themselves, and their complaints are kept confidential, the ACLU and the North Carolina Justice Center point out.) Through the second, any person can file a lawsuit asking a court to decide whether a city or county is non-compliant with state law. In both cases, local governments can have their infrastructure and school funding withdrawn if intentional or inadvertent violations are found. Here’s what a lawmaker supporting the bill told the Associated Press:
"I think everybody will agree that sometimes it's the threat of potential for penalty or loss of something that really gets people's attention," said Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, who is guiding [HB 100] through the Senate.
City leaders and advocacy organizations are pointing out how problematic these penalties are: “This bill creates a costly, burdensome, and unnecessary framework for enforcing immigration laws that would make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs, encourage fraudulent tipsters to waste government resources, and give the Attorney General sweeping powers to withhold funding from school construction and other infrastructure projects,” Sarah Preston, the policy director of the ACLU of North Carolina said in a statement. “These changes would allow massive government overreach and waste precious taxpayer dollars—all in an attempt to target and single out undocumented North Carolinians who work, go to school, and contribute to our communities in countless ways.”
Here are some other reactions against HB 100 on Twitter:
The North Carolina state legislature is doing is what Congress tried to do in 2015: turn whole cities into scapegoats and punish them for trying to be more welcoming to the people who built them and now help them run smoothly. Some of the state’s leaders appear so loyal to the tradition of passing laws that hurt people of color, immigrants, and LGBT citizens that the harm that their laws potentially inflict on all Carolinians seems easily brushed aside.