Notwithstanding the efforts of North Carolina’s current political leadership to outdo their neighbors to the south on virtually every hot button issue on the right wing agenda, the fact remains that South Carolina is and always has been a more conservative state than North Carolina.

That’s what makes the latest news from a Winthrop University poll all the more startling and encouraging. As the Charlotte Observer reports:

“Immigration is weighing on the minds of South Carolinians as the 2016 presidential primaries approach in February.

Consider: Donald Trump, who has adopted a hard line on dealing with the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, leads GOP presidential polls in South Carolina, the state that holds the South’s first presidential primary.

‘You’re not going to be in a town hall for Trump and say you favor a path to citizenship,’ Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said. ‘You’ll be pelted with red trucker hats.’

But the majority of South Carolinians, including Republicans, don’t share the New York business mogul’s deport-them-now views.

Most in the Palmetto State favor giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, under specific requirements, rather than deporting them or allowing them to stay only for a limited time, according to a Winthrop Poll question asked exclusively for The State newspaper.”

The poll found a solid majority (58%) of South Carolinians to be pro-citizenship. Now, this number is not as high as the national figure (65% according to a Gallup poll) but it does serve to reenforce two important points:

  1. When even 58% of South Carolinains are for doing the right and humane thing, you know that even more North Carolinains are for it, and
  2. Governor McCrory might do well to think twice before playing the anti-immigrant card that he loves to flash — especially when it comes to the bill sitting on his desk to make it harder for immigrants to use alternative identification cards. Though he may win plaudits from the far right, Tea Party crowd, the majority of North Carolinians are almost certainly of a different mind.

Today’s edition of the Weekly Briefing examines a mean-spirited proposal approved by state lawmakers in the final days of the 2015 session to take meager food benefits away from hungry people. The provision is reason enough for Governor McCrory to veto House Bill 318.

Amazingly, however, this is not the most controversial portion of HB 318. The bill also contains a major new attack on immigrants that really amounts to an attack on public health and safety. The editorial page of the Charlotte Observer explains:

“House Bill 318 would forbid local governments from ordering their police forces to de-emphasize or stop the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Such ‘sanctuary city’ provisions are in place formally and informally in dozens of cities and counties across the country, including Charlotte.

It’s not news that Republican lawmakers in North Carolina want to tell cities how to do their business. But the bill, which Gov. Pat McCrory is likely to sign into law this month, also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of immigration law and how it’s enforced.

Sanctuary cities have become a flashpoint in the immigration debate in recent months, thanks in part to some misinformed rhetoric that the governor parroted last week. Said McCrory: ‘As governor, I believe that every law enforcement officer is sworn to uphold not only the laws of North Carolina, but also the laws of the United States … including our immigration laws.’

But police in sanctuary cities aren’t ignoring the law, and they’re not hiding undocumented immigrants from the clutches of federal agents. What those cities have chosen to do is not use their resources – meaning officers and jails – to serve the purposes of federal programs. That means officers are not asking people their immigration status at traffic stops – and therefore not being obligated to bring undocumented workers in. It also means when undocumented immigrants are arrested for unrelated crimes, many of these cities have chosen not to keep them jailed solely to wait for federal agents to arrive.

It’s a decision cities make for philosophical and budgetary reasons. Either way, it’s legal. The Constitution says that while federal law usually supersedes state law, states are not required to enforce laws that are exclusively federal in nature (such as immigration). In Printz. v. United States, which involved background checks of gun purchases, the Supreme Court said that “the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers … to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.”

The author of that opinion? Conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

The editorial goes on to explain that McCrory and conservative lawmakers are using baseless scare tactics to imply that such sanctuary laws somehow prevent the arrest of dangerous criminals — something that is patently false. Let’s fervently hope the words of his hometown paper cause the Guv rethink his position on this issue.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary, News

johnson_terryAny notion that Alamance County’s anti-immigrant crusading sheriff Terry Johnson (pictured at left) would be at all chastened as a result of being sued by the federal government for unlawfully targeting Latinos has been quashed in recent days. On Monday, the Alamance County Board of Commissioners approved without debate a request submitted by Johnson to send four of his officers to Texas at taxpayer expense for a “Sheriff Border Summit” sponsored by the notorious anti-immigrant group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

As the watchdogs at the Southern Poverty Law Center document here, FAIR is an anti-immigrant advocacy  group that maintains a “veneer of legitimacy” at the same time that “its leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.”

Click here and scroll down to page 7 to see a flyer describing the event, which looks as if it will feature a who’s who of anti-immigrant zealots. This is from the flyer:

“Join Sheriffs from around the nation for the 3rd Annual Border Summit, and education and training event created specifically for Sheriffs.

Hear from top experts in the field of:
Drug Cartels
Narco Culture and Occult
National Security
Transnational Gangs
The training will include a tour of the Texas-Mexico Border meeting with Texas Border Volunteers and Texas Bar B Q at the Vicker Ranch”

Johnson’s request is that Alamance County taxpayers pay “Approx. $2,570” for four individuals from his office to travel to Texas next month to attend the event. Somewhat strangely, Johnson’s request seeks approval for the men to travel to El Paso, Texas, but the flyer attached to the request says that the event will be in the city of McAllen, which is 800 miles east of El Paso. Sounds like quite a road trip could be in the offing.

According to the Associated Press, one of the men slated to attend the event, Richard Longamore, once “forwarded an email to the sheriff and his chief deputy bemoaning a federal program that provides temporary visas to foreign nationals who are the victims of such violent crimes as rape, incest and torture.”

Johnson was, of course, has long been a controversial figure in North Carolina and one of the state’s most outspoken public officials on the matter of  immigration. He was sued by the United State Department of Justice for unlawfully targeting Latino residents for investigation, traffic stops, arrests, seizures, and other enforcement actions. Last month, a federal judge in Winston-Salem dismissed the lawsuit, but advocates remain hopeful that the Department of Justice will appeal the ruling.

This is from a statement issued by the ACLU of North Carolina in response to the judge’s decision: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Immigrants are increasingly important to North Carolina’s long-term economic vitality. The smokescreen of rhetoric surrounding immigration can obscure facts on the ground, but that makes it all the more important to take a sober look at the actual evidence. As documented in a recent Budget & Tax Center report, immigrants bring needed skills and expertise, swell the ranks of Main Street entrepreneurs, help to reverse population decline in many rural parts of the state, and ultimately improve our communities.

Table 2-no number-PW

Comparing North Carolina counties with sizable immigrant populations to counties that have relatively new residents who were born outside of the United States provides perhaps the most compelling evidence that immigrants help communities to prosper. As shown in the table to the left, counties made up of more than 6% immigrants fare significantly better than counties where the immigrant population is less than 3%.

By allowing hard fact to scrub the political air, it is clear that immigrants help communities across North Carolina to prosper. On average, communities with substantial immigrant populations have lower unemployment rates and levels of poverty, and higher wages than communities with few immigrants. This trend also holds when you look at rural counties, evidence that immigrants help communities large and small.

This kind of evidence has more and more communities across the country extending a helping hand to immigrants. Cities like St. Louis, Detroit, and Charlotte, just to name a few, recognize that immigrants will play a huge role in their economic prospects going forward. Immigrants have always been part of America’s economic foundation. Our future economic vitality will depend on how well we build upon that legacy.

Legislative Update

House Bill 328, sponsored by Representative Harry Warren (Republican, Rowan County) was recommended by the House Finance Committee earlier this week on a 22-11 vote. The bill would allow undocumented immigrants who pass a criminal background check to receive a temporary driver’s license in North Carolina. The bill received bi-partisan support, but has an uncertain future. It is not clear when, or if, the bill will be debated by the full House. Governor McCrory has said that he opposes the bill and it is unclear how it would be received in the Senate. Still, the Finance vote is the second favorable vote in a House committee and the bill has support from a variety of constituencies.

For more on the Finance Committee vote, visit



Republican state legislators frustrated by a lack of progress on immigration reform on the federal level demonstrated Tuesday just how hard it can be to reach a compromise.

Members of the House Finance Committee were deeply divided over a provision in House Bill 328 that would offer a restricted drivers permit to undocumented immigrants who are willing to undergo a background check and be fingerprinted.

Rep. John Blust, R- Guilford, worried the bill would be an incentive for more immigrants to come to North Carolina.

Republican Rep. Bert Jones went a step further saying if immigrants were for the bill, that was all the proof he needed that committee members should oppose the measure.

Bill sponsor Rep. Harry, R-Rowan, was clearly frustrated by the direction of the debate telling his fellow Republicans:

“If you’ll step away from the politics of this for a minute, and look at the logic behind it, you’ll see this is the right thing to do,” explained Warren.

Warren says the Highway Safety/Citizens Protection Act would help law enforcement, and ensure undocumented drivers actually carry insurance before getting behind the wheel.

Rep. Jones would not be persuaded:

“We should not be encouraging, should not be endorsing, should not be accepting illegal immigration in any way.”

For now, HB 382 remains in committee with the finance chair promising a vote at a future meeting.

To watch part of Tuesday’s debate, click below.

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