NC Senate bill to enforce penalties on cities, counties ignoring federal immigration law

Senate Bill 145 adds teeth to resolutions banning sanctuary practices by pulling important state funding streams for willfully non-compliant entities

Christine T. Nguyen | The North State Journal
The North Carolina Senate convenes at the N.C. General Assembly.

RALEIGH — A N.C. Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation Tuesday that would enact penalties against cities, counties, law enforcement agencies, and universities who willfully defy federal immigration law.Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret), adds enforcement measures to previously passed resolutions banning sanctuary cities and other efforts to resist complying with immigration laws.”We finally put the teeth in the bill to make it a real bill,” said Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) during committee consideration of the bill. “I don’t know of anybody that wants to harbor illegals in their city. This is not political to me; this is the real situation we’re facing.”The bill repeals state statute that allows community issued identification cards to be accepted in lieu of state certified forms of identification; charges the state attorney general with fielding complaints and conducting investigations into non-compliant entities, and maintaining a database of those complaints and investigations; creates uniform penalties for non-compliance with the state’s E-verify laws; and waives local government immunity for cities and counties that have adopted sanctuary policies for any damages committed by illegal immigrants, among other reforms.Those entities found non-compliant under federal immigration laws will face losing one or more of six different funding streams from the state, such as beer and wine taxes or telecommunication taxes that are remitted to local municipalities.For example, if a university in the state is found in violation the entity would have their funding status revoked such that they could not receive general fund appropriations.”Any funds that are withheld from any of those six streams will not be funds that revert back to the general fund; those funds will be distributed among the cities and counties that are in compliance,” explained Sanderson.As the bill cleared another legislative hurdle, the ACLU of N.C. issued a response claiming the measure would impose on the rights of illegal aliens in the state.”This bill potentially violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution and could expose North Carolina to costly litigation,” said Sarah Gillooly, Policy Director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “But more importantly, state lawmakers should not be in the business of telling local officials to target and single out undocumented North Carolinians who work, go to school, and contribute to our communities in countless ways.”Some Democratic lawmakers asked Sanderson if illegal immigrants reporting violent crimes would risk deportation under the proposal.”If you’re in this country illegally you have already broken a law,” said Sanderson in response. “We’re either a state of laws or not a state of laws.”The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.