On the off chance you needed any reminder how terrible the General Assembly can be, here you go: while everyone was focused on budget negotiations, a simple jury-duty bill was gutted, replaced with a xenophobic anti-immigrant provisions, and passed in the Senate on Monday.
The Senate voted 32–17 to approve the legislation, which creates a draconian penalty for so-called sanctuary cities. How draconian? If municipalities allow immigrants to access nonprofit ID cards or restrict their local police forces from working with federal immigration officials, they'll lose state funding for school and road construction.
Translation: the General Assembly would rather tank education and leave its roads to ruin than have cities welcome undocumented immigrants, many of whom are economic refugees who've never committed a violent crime.
Wait, it gets worse. The bill doesn't just threaten education and transportation if North Carolina municipalities don't turn themselves into Trumpian utopias; it would also give unprecedented authority to the attorney general, which is convenient, considering the Republican attorney general nominee, Senator Buck Newton, is one of the bill's primary sponsors. The attorney general—by himself—would decide when to cut off that funding, a move that suggests that Republicans are worried the Governor's Mansion might not be safe.
Moreover, the state ACLU says that the law would allow "anonymous tipsters" to claim that their local government isn't sufficiently antagonizing undocumented immigrants, thus potentially triggering an attorney general investigation.
Senator Mike Woodard, D-Durham, says it's no coincidence that Newton is the public face of the bill. "It's what we like to call a 'run on' bill," he says. [Newton] gets to run on it."
Considering what the bill represents, however—a full-throated endorsement of anti-immigrant sentiment—the damage will last well past the election.
"I hate to draw conclusions to bigger things, but it was the same type of fear and xenophobia that caused Great Britain to leave the European Union," says Representative Duane Hall, D-Raleigh. "It seems like they never step back and look at the big picture. Can you ever think of a moment in history where [the group] hating immigrants was on the right side of history?"