Politics & Government

NC Senate bill would cut off funds to cities that provide ‘sanctuary’ to immigrants

Protester Christobal Rangen, lower left, chants with a larger crowd of about 150 in the 200 block of North Blount Street across from the North Carolina Governor's Mansion. The demonstration in October was to protest Gov. Pat McCrory's signing of HB318, tightening state immigration laws.
Protester Christobal Rangen, lower left, chants with a larger crowd of about 150 in the 200 block of North Blount Street across from the North Carolina Governor's Mansion. The demonstration in October was to protest Gov. Pat McCrory's signing of HB318, tightening state immigration laws. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Last year, the legislature voted to ban local governments from having “sanctuary city” policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws.

Now Republican senators want to cut off state funding to cities, towns and counties that don’t comply.

Since the sanctuary city bill passed last fall, local governments have been banned from preventing their law enforcement officers from asking about a suspect’s immigration status. They also can’t stop law enforcement from sharing immigration information with federal authorities.

But according to a news release Tuesday from Senate leader Phil Berger’s office, “several law enforcement officials have contacted lawmakers to raise concern that some local governments are not complying with the law.”

Filed Tuesday, Senate Bill 868 would set up a process for the state attorney general to investigate complaints about sanctuary city practices. Local governments found to be in violation would lose state funding for school construction and street projects.

“It’s just plain common sense that cities and counties ought to be enforcing federal and state immigration laws and not harboring illegal aliens at the potential expense of their own citizens’ safety,” said a joint statement from the bill sponsors, Republican senators Buck Newton and Norman Sanderson. “Hopefully this bill will provide some extra incentive for local officials to do the right thing.”

Newton is the GOP candidate for attorney general.

The bill also would ban the use of “community IDs” that private organizations sometimes issue to immigrants in the country illegally.

A separate immigration-related bill filed in the House Tuesday would allow local governments to opt out of taking in refugees if they “lack capacity.” Local governments would also have to hold a public hearing and document their extra capacity in order to take additional refugees.

During a 2015 press conference, NC GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse calls on Attorney General Roy Cooper to take a stand on sanctuary cities.

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