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NC Budget and Tax Center

Colorado joined a growing number of states (16 in total) yesterday in recognizing the importance of an affordable post-secondary education to all their residents, regardless of immigration status. The Governor signed legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from state high schools the ability to attend state colleges at the in-state tuition rate.

Meanwhile, a similar proposal in North Carolina is languishing in the Rules Committee, which means young people like Marco Cervantes can’t afford college.

Charging the same tuition rates to all residents is a great way to invest in our state and in our future workforce. The higher tuition rate often charged immigrants—in Colorado the out of state rate is three times in-state tuition—is a barrier for many students and a drain on the economy.  That is because it is increasingly necessary to have some kind of post-secondary degree to attain a family-sustaining job and secure middle-class status.

Today is a great day to call your state reps to voice support for HB 904 and in-state tuition equality. Also, sign the petition here.

As one of the bill sponsors in Colorado noted:  “in Colorado the doors are open and the dream is alive.”

Can North Carolina say the same thing?

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Towed carHB 786, or the RECLAIM NC Act, should be called the “Repo” Act.

Most of the attention in the RECLAIM –er, Repo Act — has been focused on a provision that would provide a limited number of undocumented immigrants driver permits, or on the part cribbed from a racist Arizona bill that would allow law enforcement officers to arrest people they “suspect” might be undocumented immigrants.

One overlooked horror in this bill is Part X. This provision would impound and then sell at auction all the cars driven by anyone who is found guilty of driving without a license, whose insurance has lapsed and a few other similar violations.

Last fiscal year, more than 215,000 people were charged with one of those misdemeanors, according to statistics maintained by the Administrative Office of the Courts. If “Repo” were law in 2012, all the vehicles these people had been driving would have been impounded. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina legislators are considering an anti-immigrant bill (HB 786) that would impose new law enforcement costs on state and local governments and could result in additional consequences in the state’s communities. The Arizona-style “show me your papers” provision and other enforcement measures in this bill would take away from other investments state and local governments need to make—as this fact sheet points out.

States that considered or enacted similar restrictive immigration laws and enforcement mechanisms have faced real costs to implementing such laws. In fact, the estimated cost of an anti-immigrant bill filed in Kentucky in 2011 raised concerns among stakeholders and the bill ultimately failed to make its way to the Governor’s desk.

This Kentucky bill comprised many of the core provisions that are in HB 786, including the “show me your papers” provision, the authorized seizure of vehicles during certain illegal activities, and new and ramped up criminal penalties. Read More

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A North Carolina House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the “RECLAIM NC” Act today, an Arizona-style immigration bill sponsored by Rep. Harry Warren and 13 others (including a key member of Speaker Thom Tillis’ leadership team, Rep. Ruth Samuelson). The proposal includes a raft of anti-immigrant provisions, including making it harder for undocumented immigrants to post bond for minor criminal offenses, requiring them to pay for their own incarceration time, and making it easy to seize and impound cars of people caught driving without insurance or a proper license. 

The bill also includes the odd and controversial twist of “requiring” all undocumented immigrants to register for a “restricted driving permit,” which would not the same thing as a driver’s license. Representative Warren claims that the driver’s permit requirement is intended to make all drivers safer by identifying folks who are driving on state roads.  This claim is belied, however, by the fact that bill: a) requires undocumented immigrants to register for a state ID card even if they have no intention of driving at all, and b) excludes many people from obtaining the driving permit at all.

Probably the most telling moment of this morning’s hearing was when the committee discussed the “show me your papers” provision, and Representative Rick Glazier asked  Warren how a law enforcement officer could form a “reasonable suspicion” that someone was in the country without papers. Watch the exchange here:

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As you can see, Read More

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Franco Ordoñez of the Charlotte Observer/McClatchy newspapers posted this story last night about a bill that would try and reinstate driving privileges to those living illegally in the country, but also increase enforcement.

State Rep. Harry Warren, a Rowan County Republican, told the newspaper he would introduce the major legislation next week.

From the Charlotte Observer piece:

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are expected next week to propose a sweeping new state law that would grant driving privileges to residents living in the country illegally but also would adopt Arizona-type enforcement measures that authorize police to check the immigration status of people they question for other suspected offenses.

Supporters say the proposal, a sign of a more welcoming approach that some states are taking with their unauthorized residents, would make the roads safer and help identify those who had been living hidden in society.

The measure also has significant political implications as national Republican leaders have warned the party must expand its appeal to Latinos. It’s not an easy task for a Republican-led North Carolina legislature, which must walk a fine line between reaching out to the state’s rapidly growing Latino community without antagonizing the party’s conservative base.

Immigrants living in the country without permission cannot currently get drivers licenses, a policy that affects about an estimated 325,000 people.

Warren said his bill would also include a controversial enforcement component that allows law enforcement to check immigration status of those who are stopped, according to the McClatchy article.

This comes on the heels of North Carolina’s DMV opting to drop its plan to use a fuchsia line on the licenses of young immigrants who receive permission to stay in the country under the Obama Administration’s deferred action policy.