North Carolina Republican leaders are fast-tracking a plan to withhold state funding for schools and highways from cities and counties that enact ordinances that are friendly to undocumented immigrants.
The measure, which was approved by a Senate panel on Tuesday morning, would allow the Attorney General’s office to investigate local governments suspected of not complying with state immigration laws or of deprioritizing the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Any local governments state investigators determine are not compliant would lose state funding.
The proposal adds an enforcement arm to a controversial law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last year that made it illegal for local governments to be welcoming to undocumented immigrants. Senate Leader Phil Berger, the chamber’s top-ranking Republican, has said tightening the law was a top priority of this year’s legislative session.
"This is not a punishment as much as it is a deterrent," said Sen. Norm Sanderson, a Republican from Pamlico County who presented the bill. "I like to drive 80 miles an hour, and the thing that keeps me from driving 80 miles an hour is the 200 dollar cost for a speeding ticket."
The plan also targets another aspect of local immigration law enforcement: it eliminates an exemption that allows police officers and sheriff’s deputies to accept community-issued photo ID cards often used by undocumented immigrants to determine a person’s identity.
The Senate's key committee on appropriations, which handles budget matters, is expected to hear the bill next, though an exact date has not been set yet.