North Carolina has followed suit in drafting immigration legislation in the wake of the recent Arizona illegal immigration law that enables the state to deal with this growing problem. A North Carolina Senate bill went to committee last month that seems to show tacit support for the recent Arizonan law. Senate Joint Resolution 1349, sponsored by Senator Don East (R –Surry) and cosponsored by thirteen additional senators, would authorize the General Assembly to consider a bill that would make it a crime against the state of North Carolina to willfully fail to carry or complete an alien registration document.
In late April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) passed legislation that empowers her state with the ability to essentially enforce federal immigration laws by giving local law enforcement officers the ability to check a person’s immigration status after that person has been detained for violating another law, provided probable cause exists. All violators would still be sent to federal authorities. Many contend that immigration law enforcement, which is a federal responsibility, has not been effectively carried out by the federal department with jurisdiction over illegal immigration interdiction, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Arizona has raised this issue to the attention of a national audience by passing bold legislation that protects that state where the federal government is unwilling or unable.
North Carolina is joining the ranks of a multitude of state legislatures throughout the nation who also recognize the manifold problems of illegal immigration and the federal government’s lack of enforcement.
This is good news for North Carolina, especially in the context of this year’s budget shortfall. Illegal immigration has been shown to cost North Carolina taxpayers more than $1.7 billion every year by providing them public services such as enrollment in community colleges. Thus, addressing the problem of illegal immigration in our state would be addressing a part of the state’s financial woes.
In addition to being financially beneficial, the Arizona law enjoys broad support amongst North Carolinians, being popular with as much as 64 percent of our state’s likely voters and 58 percent being in favor of North Carolina adopting similar legislation, according to a recent Civitas poll.
Senate Joint Resolution 1349 is a critical step in North Carolina’s path to progress as it raises awareness in Washington of the very real problem of illegal immigration in our country. But perhaps more importantly, it serves as a manifesto of states’ rights. Passing immigration legislation similar to Arizona’s would be a courageous step forward in asserting the rights of North Carolinians to protect themselves with or without the approval of the federal government. This is a crucial time in American history and this bill embodies a truly democratic spirit, when local authorities are asserting their rights to serve the best interests of their state even when it butts heads with the agenda of the goliath-like federal government. This is a bill for the devolution of power.
Thanks to the impetus of Arizona’s innovative immigration law, legislators around the nation are finding the strength to stand up for a reasonable cause, enforcing America’s laws and protecting their state, even when it is at odds with the interests of the federal government.