RALEIGH – North Carolina municipalities and counties would be barred from acting as “sanctuary cities” under a bill tentatively passed Thursday by the state Senate. Sancuary cities are what supporters and opponents call jurisdictions that affirmatively refuse to enforce federal laws relating to immigration.
The idea of sanctuary cities became national news following the shooting of a California woman. The man accused of the crime is in the United States illegally, had been deported numerous times and could have been deported again shortly before the murder, but San Francisco’s sanctuary laws prevented authorities from contacting U.S. immigration officials.
About 300 U.S. jurisdictions have enacted some form of sanctuary for those in the country illegally, including a handful of places in North Carolina. There is no formal definition of a sanctuary city, but resolutions and ordinances instructing law enforcement officials to ignore deportation orders or requiring them not to ask about immigration status are examples of what some sanctuary cities have done. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have passed ordinances similar to those, and bill supporters say that Charlotte and Durham also have passed ordinances favorable to immigrants in the country illegally.
“It’s just plain common sense that cities and counties ought to be enforcing federal immigration laws and not harboring illegal aliens at the potential expense of their own citizens’ safety. It’s sad that we have to pass a law to make localities follow the law,” said Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico).
Under House Bill 318, localities could not stop local law enforcement from asking about immigration status and or from sharing immigration information with federal immigration officials. The bill would also require state and local government agencies to abide by state and federal E-Verify laws, restrict the use of matricula consular cards issued by foreign governments for public purposes, and direct the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to stop issuing waivers exempting food stamp recipients from federal work requirements.
The bill is on the Senate calendar for a final vote Friday. The Senate must pass the bill a final time and it must be approved by the House before it goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.