HB 318 bans refuge for undocumented immigrants

“We are a nation of laws,” said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, before signing House Bill 318. “No politician should choose which laws to obey and which laws not to obey, and this includes immigration law.”

The Protect North Carolina Workers Act was signed on Oct. 28, pacifying some but rousing others.

As its name suggests, the law is an attempt to help the workers of North Carolina by outlawing any type of sanctuary ordinance which interferes with the federal immigration policies.

A sanctuary city is a municipality that chooses not to prosecute illegal aliens by either banning any action which would involve asking an individual about their immigration status, or by not allowing city funds to enforce federal immigration statutes.

The same law also prohibits any city to accept identification that was not created by a government agency. Finally, the bill stops supplying food stamps to unemployed adults with no children, a problem, because North Carolina has 83 counties that have negative job- opening-to-worker ratios.

Under the new law, either local law enforcement or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be contacted if any worker was found without acceptable ID.

It seems for many that the law has gone too far.

“One of the most effective ways for one group to dehumanize another is to take away access to basic needs,” said David Fraccaro, executive director of FaithAction, to the Greensboro News and Record. “Make no mistake, this is the goal of HB 318.”

FaithAction has been producing IDs for years and Greensboro was one of the first cities to accept them. This law essentially discredits everything nonprofits like FaithAction have done for immigrants.

“Personally, I think there is nothing good in this law for our community at all,” said Dulce Verenisse, from FaithAction, in an email statement to The Guilfordian. “Our City Council and the (Greensboro Police Department) have worked so hard to build trust with the immigrant community, and this law is affecting those efforts.”

“The City of Greensboro has staunchly opposed this bill,” wrote American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program Director Lori Khamala ‘99, in a newsletter by the AFSC. “The City Council voted 8-1 to oppose it, the Human Relations Commission voted unanimously to oppose it, the News & Record came out in opposition and the Greensboro Police Department has spoken out against it.”

Yet, McRory signed the House bill into law. Hours later, protesters gathered at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

Some organizations supported the signing of the bill, like the Federation for American Immigration Reform. They said it would stop wage depression because it would prohibit undocumented workers from working for lower-than-minimum pay, as well as forcing employers to follow federal statutes.

“Sanctuary cities give people a false sense,” Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes told the Winston-Salem Journal. “If Greensboro is telling their police officers not to enforce the laws of the federal government and that we have, then that’s going to give them a false sense. They’re going to end up being caught and being held for not having the proper ID.”

The North Carolina Justice Center has created a hotline so people can contact them about problems that arise because of HB 318.