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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

N.C. Outlaws ‘Sanctuary Cities’ for Immigrants

(CN) - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Protect North Carolina Workers Act into law Thursday, outlawing so-called "sanctuary cities" with policies that limit how law enforcement and others deal with undocumented aliens.

The Act ends the adoption of sanctuary city ordinances in North Carolina by prohibiting any city or county from having in effect any policy, ordinance, or procedure that would restrict the enforcement of federal immigration law.

"When I go to other countries I go legally and adhere to the laws," said Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes who hosted the governor at the county's sheriff's office where he signed the act into law. "Can we not, as the greatest nation in the world, expect others to do the same?"

The legislation also forbids the use of consulate documents, which are vulnerable to fraud or forgery, to determine a person's identity or residency for government and law enforcement purposes.

Another provision in the Protect NC Workers Act requires any company that does business with a public entity in North Carolina to ensure their employees are in this country legally through the federal E-Verify program.

The new law also requires able-bodied adults without dependents to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week, participate in qualifying education and training activities, or comply with a workfare program to be eligible for food and nutrition benefits.

Protestors of the new law stood outside the governor's mansion on Thursday , chanting "no papers, no fear" and "we pay taxes, too." Six protesters were arrested for sitting in the street and blocking traffic. The protest was organized by several groups, including United We Dream, and the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network.

The law could impact Charlotte, as well as other cities such as Durham and Chapel Hill, by forcing the city to remove language in a civil rights resolution that prohibits police from asking about immigration status. Though Charlotte is not technically considered a sanctuary city, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department issued an order in May that stated its officers would not enforce federal immigration law. A month later, the City Council passed a civil rights resolution that supported the police department's action not to inquire about immigration status. In light of the new law, this resolution will need to be changed.

"This bill is unnecessary," Emilio Vicente with the Southeast Immigrant Right's Network told WBTV during the protest. "Once this bill goes into effect, it will further cement the idea that you can't trust the police."

Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith, a Republican, who voted for the civil rights resolution this summer because the police backed it told WBTV that he supports the new law and that municipalities shouldn't stand in the way of federal law.

"Each individual arriving here in a legal manner, following our laws, in search of a better life is a blessing to our state and to our country," McCrory said. "We want to continue that strength of our great country, but in doing so, we must follow the law and not tie the hands of the men and women behind me. We're going to enforce the law and help our law enforcement officers protect our citizens."

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