Immigrants speak out: Proposed “RECLAIM NC Act” should be rejected
The following post comes to us from Hector Vaca, Charlotte Director of the progressive advocacy group, Action NC:
“Now hear this! A People’s platform opposing HB 786, the RECLAIM NC Act
In the last few weeks, I’ve worked with community leaders and members of our organization, Action NC, and various partner groups around the state, to hold community forums in Spanish about House Bill 786, the “RECLAIM NC” Act, being considered now in the state legislature. In the forums, our organizations and lawyers shared information about exactly what is included in each section of the bill. But the main goal of the workshops was to hear from immigrant communities directly THEIR thoughts and opinions on the bill. Participants had a variety of ways to express their views about these issues, including group discussion, Q&A and interactive activities like voting on various provisions as harmful or beneficial.
By now, forums have happened all over the state, from Hendersonville to Burgaw, from Charlotte to Durham, from Greenville to Siler City, from Raleigh to Raeford, and other towns, too. There have been at least 18 workshops in all. The sizes of forums ranged from 15 participants to 120 or more. More than 750 immigrant community members have participated in total. This is no small accomplishment, and it means, to us at Action NC, that the immigrant community is discussing the bill in some detail, and here’s what they are saying:
- We need driver’s licenses, but we oppose HB 786 because of the Arizona-style measures.
- We are concerned that having a document showing our immigration status will subject us to discrimination:
- There is no way to enforce the “show me your papers” provisions of the bill without racially profiling. Although many or most police officers will do their job in a responsible way, some will use the bill as an excuse to discriminate and racially profile. This will happen to citizens and immigrants alike.
- We have concerns that we may be discriminated against in other ways as well. For example, we may be discriminated against when showing this permit at the store or the bank, or at our own place of employment.
- The driving permit feels like a trap to us: If we apply for the permit, the DMV will have our sensitive immigration information and we have concerns about ICE and federal authorities being able to look through the DMV records. If we don’t apply for the permit, the police can confiscate our car for driving without a license and detain us under the Arizona provision of the law.
- This bill does not provide protections for anyone driving through the state on the way from one state to another. Citizens and immigrants visiting our state will be subject to the “Arizona” section of the law.
- Asking people to pay for a year of car insurance in advance will pose a financial burden for working immigrant families, and will prevent many from obtaining the driver’s permit.
- We oppose any measure that requires that people pay for their own incarceration. We are taxpayers too, and should not have to pay taxes to support prisons and pay for our own incarceration if arrested.
- The bill is unfair for people who get to North Carolina after April 1st and will not qualify for a driver’s permit. They should not be treated like criminals just because of when they arrived here.
Our organization is honored to be one of the groups in direct dialogue with immigrant community members about these issues. We are listening to many voices in this debate.
We hope state legislators are listening, too.”