Business growth over the last decade in North Carolina (prior to the current economic situation) has brought a corresponding growth in the number of illegal aliens in the state. Civitas Institute opinion polls have consistently shown a significant level of concern amongst the state’s voters about how state government should respond to the problem of illegal immigration in North Carolina.
The North Carolina General Assembly has taken a moderate interest in solving the illegal immigration problem. This legislative session had several promising bills introduced on the subject. Some bills have had success, but many more have met an untimely death. As I have described here in the past a quirk of the legislative process is known as the crossover deadline. If a bill is not passed by either the NC House or NC Senate, it is essentially dead until after the next election of a new Legislature. Crossover this year was on May 14 and many immigration bills did not make the cut.
The confusing exemption to this rule is when a bill has a component that spends or collects money. This rule is subjectively applied by leadership to do two things:
- Accomplish their narrow legislative goals by allowing their favored bills to be exempt from the deadline.
- Prevent the minority from forcing recorded votes on bills considered “controversial” by the majority that would inform voters of their true colors.
This leads to a game of smoke and mirrors played by lawmakers who readily sign as a co-sponsor of popular bills that they privately hope never come up for a vote or pass. And these bills cannot pass without being heard in a committee.
The following bills did not receive enough support from the majority of either house for further consideration and are now no longer eligible. (In other words, they’re dead and will not be heard again until after the next election.)
Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie) sponsored SB 237, which would have restricted voter registration forms and ballots to be printed in English only except where required by federal law. (Given that only citizens are supposed to vote and a requirement of citizenship is a basic grasp of the English language, is this really too much to ask?)
Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) also sponsored HB 324 that would require any contractor receiving stimulus funds to be required to use the E-Verify System. Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) sponsored HB 338 that is almost an identical bill.
The debate on allowing seats to be taken by illegal aliens in the state’s community colleges flared up last year, prior to the election. The education establishment did a fairly good job of putting the issue off until a more convenient time. The issue is addressed by HB 294 sponsored by Rep. Pearl Burris-Floyd (R-Gaston). It would prohibit illegal aliens from attending state supported community colleges and universities.
All of these bills were attempts to correct the problem of illegal immigration. The very definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. However, when lawmakers attempt to solve the problem, they are met with complete resistance. These bills were never given a chance of passage by leadership of the Legislature.
Despite lack of progress on the immigration front, some bills could still be in play since they were originally scheduled to be heard in appropriations or finance committees, but have not been given a committee hearing date. The following bills might still be eligible if allowed by leadership.
By far, the most wide reaching and comprehensive bill introduced in the Legislature was HB 922 sponsored by Rep. Brian Holloway (R-Stokes). Nearly every facet of illegal alien activity is covered by this bill, from penalizing employers that hire illegals to authorizing local sheriffs and police to enforce federal immigration laws, prohibiting illegals from attending community colleges and denying bail to illegals arrested. It is little wonder that this bill was never allowed by leadership to be heard in committee. The Senate had two similar versions of this bill. SB 337 sponsored by Sen. Austin Allran (R-Catawba) and SB 398 was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Clary (R-Gaston).
Reps. Wil Neumann (R-Cleveland) and George Cleveland (R-Onslow) introduced HB 344 that would require all employers in the state use the E-Verify Program to determine an employee’s eligibility to work legally in the US. The Senate had a nearly identical bill, SB 32 sponsored by Sen. John Snow (D-Cherokee).
Rep. Curtis Blackwood (R-Union) sponsored HB 194 that would have targeted the smugglers of illegal aliens that transport so many illegals to North Carolina.
Only one bill has been clearly identified as exempt from crossover and that is SB 290 sponsored by Sen. Jim Forester (R-Gaston). This bill is similar to HB 324, by limiting illegals from benefiting from stimulus funds in North Carolina. This bill has also never been heard in committee.
If legislative leaders wish to continue to play games with immigration reform legislation, the citizens of North Carolina need to know that the General Assembly is using a stacked deck.
This article originally appeared in the Lincoln Tribune on June 19, 2009