Six protesters who blocked the street in front of the Executive Mansion over the signing of HB 318, a law that bans “sanctuary cities” and forms of immigrant identification, were arrested Thursday night.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who was not at the mansion, signed the legislation on Wednesday – turning back pleas from advocates who wanted a veto of the bill they say harms immigrants and businesses that rely on immigrant labor.
About 150 people protested the law across the street from the mansion for about three hours, chanting “no papers, no fear,” “we pay taxes too,” and other slogans. The six protesters who were arrested sat in a semicircle in the street with their arms connected through tubes and their legs chained together for about 2 1/2 hours before police separated them and took them to the Wake County jail.
The protest was organized by several groups, including United We Dream, the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network and others.
Tim Eakins of United We Dream called North Carolina the front line of the immigration battle.
“The community is not going to stand by while this governor tramples on their dignity,” he said.
Ricky Diaz, state Republican Party senior adviser, called the law “common-sense policy” at a news conference before the protest began.
“My father came to this county because we are a nation of laws,” said Diaz, whose father emigrated from Cuba. “We need to uphold the rule of law in this country. And ending sanctuary cities will unshackle law enforcement to be able to cooperate with federal and other law enforcement agencies.”
Carmen Rodriguez was one of those arrested. Organizers issued a news release that quotes her as saying “the immigrant community is waking up.”
“We are losing our fear to raise our voices and confront this racism, face to face,” she said in the release, which identified her as a young mother of three who is in the country illegally and has lived and worked in Raleigh for more than 10 years.
McCrory signed the bill into law at the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office in downtown Greensboro on Wednesday. He was flanked by Sheriff BJ Barnes and other local law enforcement and political leaders.
“Public safety officials must have the flexibility and tools to investigate crimes and sanctuary city policies deprive law enforcement of those tools,” McCrory said.
The legislation had been approved toward the end of the legislative session and was passed largely upon party lines that favor Republicans.
The legislation prohibits jurisdictions in the state from adopting policies that restrict local cooperation with federal immigration authorities, also known as sanctuary cities.
The law also prevents government officials or police from accepting identification cards issued by the Mexican consulate or by other consulates to affirm someone’s identity. The cards, which supporters of the law argue are unreliable and favored by immigrants in the country unlawfully, also couldn’t be used to confirm one’s identity to obtain a driver’s license, insurance or Medicaid coverage.
Also barred are ID cards issued by local governments or outside organizations, although they could be used by police when a person stopped has no other ID. Several other types of ID remain acceptable.
The measure also prohibits local governments from approving policies that some say improve uneasy relations between police and immigrants and encourage crime victims to come forward.
In addition, the bill prevents the state from seeking federal government waivers allowing healthy adults without dependents to receive food stamps beyond three months unless they’re working or getting training.
McCrory’s campaign issued a fundraising plea late Wednesday after signing the bill, saying the governor “wouldn’t buckle” to an “extreme liberal attack machine” on the issue while asking possible donors to contribute.
The protesters who were arrested were Rodriguez; Angeline Marie Echeverria, the executive director of Raleigh-based El Pueblo and a Cuban-American; Martha Iliana Santillan-Carril, an organizer at El Pueblo and a former teacher; Ivanna Christina Eljuri Gonzalez, an immigrant from Venezuela who grew up in Miami and has lived in the Triangle for the past six years; David Salazar Montalvo, a contractor who has lived and worked in North Carolina for almost 30 years; and Nayely Irais Perez-Huerta, who is the regional organizer for the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network.
Each was charged with one count of impeding traffic and one count of resisting, delaying or obstructing officers, according to a Raleigh Police Department news release.