Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

There’s so much to criticize in state and federal government these days that picking top editorials is always a tough chore. This weekend’s best, however, comes from the Greensboro News & Record. The subject: a new proposal from North Carolina lawmakers to harass immigrants and local government that might want to help them. Here are some highlights from “Immigration bill would target cities”:

“If the ‘Citizens Protection Act of 2017’ passes, someone will have to explain it to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein.

‘I have no idea how we would comply with it,’ Stein said during a recent interview at the News & Record.

Filed as House Bill 63 by several Republican representatives, the measure would direct the attorney general to investigate ‘noncompliance with a state law related to immigration’ by a local government. Cities or counties found to be in violation could be penalized by losing state funds.

This is meant to punish so-called sanctuary cities, which Republicans from President Donald Trump on down seem to think are shielding illegal immigrants from arrest and deportation.

The N.C. League of Municipalities says there are no such cities in this state, prompting one of the bill’s primary sponsors, Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), to say it’s meant to be a deterrent.

In other words, it is a solution in search of a problem….

Immigration violations are federal issues, and Trump has ordered excessively vigorous enforcement. He’s also seeking to beef up the federal agencies that hunt, arrest and deport illegal immigrants, without much regard to the threat they pose to public order and safety….

Those who do commit crimes are subject to arrest by law-enforcement officers the same as anyone else who breaks the law. Police don’t have a secret agenda of letting illegal immigrants get away with crimes. But if police have to devote resources to arresting law-abiding, although illegal, immigrants, they won’t have enough time or manpower to deal with real crimes.

Stein would be put in a similar position under this bill. It would allow any person to lodge an anonymous complaint against a city or county with the Attorney General’s Office, alleging that the local government wasn’t ‘in compliance’ with an immigration law. This could be a mistake as minor as hiring a contractor who employed an undocumented worker….

It’s easy to see that all this could set off enough wild goose chases to keep both the attorney general and the SBI from more serious responsibilities. If nothing else, they would be consumed with the paperwork demanded by this bill. And for what? To do the federal government’s job of investigating immigration violations?

HB 63 stirs up too much trouble for no good purpose. Like an old tire, it should be scrapped.”

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