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Sanctuary cities bill also undercuts marriage

Mecklenburg Register of Deeds David Granberry worries that new legislation could make it harder to get a marriage license.
Mecklenburg Register of Deeds David Granberry worries that new legislation could make it harder to get a marriage license. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

So it turns out that the N.C. legislature’s anti-immigrant bill is also anti-marriage. Who knew a conservative legislature would want that?

The General Assembly passed HB318, the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill, in its final hours. It prevents cities from telling its law enforcement officers not to enforce federal immigration law. That’s a bad idea, and we will explain why in an editorial later today.

The bill, though, also has a side effect: It keeps county registers of deeds from accepting all kinds of ID that they currently accept. And without those, they can’t issue marriage licenses, birth certificates or death certificates to people with those kinds of ID. It also makes it harder for people to get the photo IDs they will need to vote starting next spring.

HB318 blocks government officials from using something called matricula consular IDs to establish a person’s identity. Those are documents issued by an organization such as a foreign consulate. The bill also blocks them from using any document issued by a city, county or organization, with few exceptions.

Immigrants commonly have IDs issued by, say, the Mexican consulate, or by some other organization. Ones who have been in jail even have documentation issued to them by the county sheriff.

Mecklenburg Register of Deeds David Granberry told me this morning that his office regularly accepts such consulate-issued IDs as proof of identity when issuing marriage licenses, birth certificates and other records.

Now, the state says he can’t do that. Which means a couple can’t get married, and a mother can’t get a birth certificate for her child born in Charlotte. A legal resident who wants a photo ID to vote now could struggle to get the documentation he needs to go to the DMV to get one.

Granberry and others are still figuring out just how drastically the broad language in HB318 will affect their work and their customers. But he worries that it will limit the documentation he can accept to a very narrow few.

“You can never underestimate the sliminess of the current General Assembly,” Granberry says. Taylor Batten

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