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A Snapshot of North Carolina's New Anti-Immigrant Proposal

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The North Carolina General Assembly has passed an anti-immigrant proposal known as HB 318, which would have some devastating effects if signed into law.

As it stands, HB 318 promises to restrict the types of identification that would be recognized by law enforcement or other state officials, it would mandate state institutions to enact mandatory E-Verify, and would nullify any power that cities or counties have when it comes to adopting sanctuary cities provisions

Republican Governor Pat McCroy has provided no timeline as to when he would sign or veto HB 318, and with only a 30 day window for him to act on the bill, local groups are mobilizing to highlight the negative aspects of this bill.

Presidential candidates have already condemned the proposal, and have urged Governor McCroy to veto HB318:

A Step In the Wrong Direction

It was only a couple of months ago when The North Carolina General Assembly was attempting to grant Driver’s Licenses to undocumented residents across the state.

Back in June, North Carolina Representative Harry Warren spoke about how his proposal aimed to give undocumented immigrants a way obtain a valid form of state identification in exchange for passing a background check and being fingerprinted.

As reported by WRAL.com:

“What we want to do in this undocumented community is to separate those who are engaged in criminal activity from those who otherwise are not engaged in unlawful activity,” – Representative Warren

While Governor McCrory voiced his disapproval for Representative Warren’s proposal, other groups, including  the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police, urged the legislature to enact a proposal that would help them identify individuals who are working and living within the state.

Ultimately the driver’s license bill, known as HB 328, made it out committee but did not find success when it came to passing through the General Assembly as a whole.

Troubling Sponsors

One of the main sponsors of HB 318 is George Cleveland, a state representative with a history of making wild claims and dangerous generalizations.

In 2012, it was Representative Cleveland who stated that nobody in North Carolina was “living in extreme poverty,” a claim so far to reality that it prompted ThinkProgress to take a closer look at the numbers:

Nearly eight percent of North Carolina’s population lives in deep poverty, which experts define as an income below half of the poverty line, far above the national average. The latest census showed that 17.5 percent of the state lives in poverty, the 13th highest rate in the country.

And it was just this year, during a debate over Confederate memorials, when Representative Cleveland all but implied that Confederate heroes “deserve the same consideration as a World War I hero or a World War II hero.”

While Representative Cleveland sustains that HB 318 is meant to manage that types of identification that are provided to undocumented immigrants across the state, he fails to acknowledge that many of the immigrants that would be impacted by HB 318 have close ties to the their communities in North Carolina, and some are the parents of U.S. Citizen children who could be separated from their families.

The News & Observer reported Representative Cleveland’s concerns about immigrants across North Carolina:

Accepting IDs issued by consulates and local governments and making non-citizens eligible for services leads to “a sense of belonging here” and “making them part of your community,” Cleveland said. “They have broken our laws and you are saying that’s OK.”

However, immigration is not the only issue that Representative George Cleveland is concerned about.


As the livelihood of immigrants across North Carolina hangs in the balance, pressure continues to mount on Governor McCrory to veto the measure.

North Carolina is no stranger to controversy, as the state’s General Assembly has successfully overridden Gubernatorial vetoes in recent months, but with Governor McCrory running for reelection in 2016 there are certainly questions around the motives to enact HB 318.

Already The Charlotte Observer delivered some harsh criticism to Governor McCrory’s analysis of sanctuary cities, a provision included in the HB 318, via a recently published editorial:

Instead, he’s supporting a bill that will make immigrants reluctant to report crimes for fear of being arrested themselves. It also could damage the relationship cities and their police have with immigrant communities. But as we learned long ago, the governor and Republican lawmakers believe that local governments know what’s best only when Raleigh agrees.

While Republicans across the country continue to succumb to the Trump Effect, North Carolina Republicans are forgetting that in 2014 Latino voters, a segment of state’s electorate that has grown twelvefold over the past decade, stated that immigration reform was their top issue when deciding on which candidate to vote for.

As the demands for a veto on HB 318 continue to grow louder, perhaps Governor McCrory can look at the impact SB 1070 had on Arizona and the cost that states and cities incur when litigating draconian immigration policies.