Andrea Guerrero, a slim young woman with Amy Winehouse makeup and blue streaks in her hair, told a crowd outside the Governor's Mansion last Wednesday how her father had been deported and the impact that had on her family.
"I believe that immigrants should not have to live with fear in this country," she said. "Immigrants should have equal rights as any other citizen. If you're an immigrant, you are the same."
The crowd of about 50 people, mostly college students aligned with activist groups like El Pueblo and Ignite NC, had gathered to protest House Bill 318, the so-called Protect North Carolina Workers Act. According to advocates, however, HB 318 has little to do with "protecting" workers. Rather, as the ACLU of North Carolina puts it, the legislation is "one of the worst anti-immigrant bills the state has seen in a while."
The bill is on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. He has until Oct. 30 to sign it. Given that he's already been fundraising off one of its provisions, a veto seems unlikely.
HB 318 would prohibit immigrants from using consular documents (like the Mexican-government-issued matricula) as well as municipal and organizational IDs to identify themselves to non-police government officials. It would extend existing E-Verify requirements to cover state contractors and subcontractors. And, most contentiously, it would prohibit cities and counties from limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws.
In doing so, the ACLU argues, the law jeopardizes individual rights by prohibiting people from identifying themselves to government officials. More important, it says the sanctuary-cities provision "deepens the wedge between immigrant communities and law enforcement" by barring local governments from adopting polices "aimed at improving safety for everyone in the community." And, by invalidating local policies designed to encourage witnesses and victims of crime to cooperate with law enforcement, "it effectively discourages the undocumented community from reporting crime."
"We will not stand for racist and anti-immigrant legislation in our state," said another young speaker, Jorge Ramos. Like the others, he was there to pressure the governor to veto the bill. But more than that, the goal seems to be to assert that the state's immigrant population will no longer be the Legislature's punching bag. "We're calling on our state to stop the attack on undocumented immigrants. We are people, too, and all we want is a good and just life, and we deserve that. The passing of this bill would be an encroachment on our basic human rights."
On Friday, the governor's office told the INDY that while McCrory hasn't taken action on HB 318, he "has made it clear that he expects public officials to uphold the laws of North Carolina and the United States. The concept of sanctuary cities goes against that firm position."
Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at email@example.com.