House Republicans target illegal immigrants with ID ban, expand gun laws

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Leaders in the state House of Representatives passed two controversial bills Wednesday afternoon, sending both to the state Senate for consideration. One of the bills (HB 33) rules out documents from the Mexican Consulate for North Carolina issued to Mexican residents in our state as a valid form of identification or proof of residency. The second (HB 111) would allow people with handgun permits to carry weapons in parks and restaurants, including establishments that serve alcohol.

The act to disregard documents issued by the state’s Mexican Consulate would prohibit government entities, including schools, magistrates and police, from verifying someone’s identity or residency through a Mexican ID card, known as a “matricula consular,” or any similar documents issued by a foreign government. Although the act would include documents from other nations—potentially problematic for a state with internationally-renowned universities and global businesses—many House Democrats said the act was unfairly targeting Latinos.

Those pushing the bill, including sponsor Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford and Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, have said consular ID cards are often forged and used by illegal immigrants to stave off deportation. Opponents of the bill say cases of forgery are no more frequent than other forms of identification. Further, forgeries are being made more difficult with changes to the format.

The bill divided the House along party lines. The vote Wednesday afternoon passed 66-50, with Creswell Democrat Rep. Tim Spear aiding the Republican-backed issue.

Leaders in Durham and Carrboro have passed resolutions in recent years supporting the acceptance of Mexican consular ID cards as valid forms of identification. When Durham’s City Council passed its resolution last fall, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez was among its supporters.

If passed by the Senate, the act to rule out consular IDs as valid identification would override the local resolutions.

The handgun bill (House Bill 111) sponsored by four Republican representatives including police officer and Rep. Mark Hilton from Catawba, also permits eateries to post signs prohibiting firearms. If a restaurant hasn’t posted a notice banning firearms, restaurant employees are permitted to ask anyone ordering alcohol if he or she is armed.

The bill also specifically mentions that no municipality or local government may enact a rule or ordinance that would override state laws on legally carrying a concealed handgun, but local governments may erect signs prohibiting them on government premises. If approved by the Senate, the bill could become effective in December.

The third and final House vote to approve the bill was split generally down party lines, with Republicans in favor and all but nine Democrats opposed. Of those few Democrats who voted in favor of the bill, none were from the Triangle. Four listed experience in the military in their legislative biographies.

Several other bills on handgun freedoms are pushing through the Legislature this session. Senate Bill 34 would allow for expansion of the “Castle Doctrine,” or the law that allows people to shoot in self-defense. That bill has already passed the Senate and now sits in the House. House Bill 184 would give elected officials the right to carry weapons anywhere but places where concealed weapons are prohibited by federal law. The bill has been introduced but hasn't moved through the House as yet.

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