Under the Dome

Dome: Forest opposes driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

January 19, 2013 

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said Saturday that President Barack Obama was wrong to defer deportation for some immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children, and the state attorney general’s office was wrong in issuing its opinion that participants in the deferred-action program are legally eligible to get driver’s licenses in North Carolina, The N&O’s Bruce Siceloff reports.

“A person entering the United States illegally should not be afforded the privileges reserved for US citizens,” Forest said in an email statement released by his chief of staff, Hal Weatherman. “The President is willfully ignoring the laws on the books and should be Constitutionally challenged on this point by our Congress.

“While Congress has not acted, we in North Carolina can and should. We are a sovereign state and need to stand up and push back when the Feds encroach on our ability to protect our citizens and enforce our laws. The Attorney General’s ruling leaves open the possibility that the DMV can issue licenses to those individuals who came to our country and state illegally. I disagree with this action.”

The state Department of Transportation said Friday that it was “carefully assessing” the opinion issued Thursday by Grayson Kelley. The Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program delays deportation for two years for some illegal immigrants. Kelley wrote that the DACA program allows the young immigrants to remain legally in the country for two years, and it meets state law requirements for confirming the “legal presence” in North Carolina of nonresidents who apply for driver’s licenses.

Kelley wrote that neither the DACA program nor his opinion has any effect on the lawful status of illegal immigrants.

Pope had to be persuaded

An interview with Art Pope shows up in this week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine with details about the governor’s new budget director.

The wealthy and influential conservative financier tells the magazine he turned the job down at first because his wife didn’t like it that he had become a favorite target of liberal groups, and had even received a death threat on an anonymous blog post.

Pope says figures such as Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of N.C. Policy Watch, have waged a sustained, full-steam campaign against him. In fact, a mischievous Pope says, the day that Pat McCrory announced his appointment, “We were all worried about Mr. Fitzsimon – we thought he might have a stroke.”

Pope also tells the magazine he’s not “taking an ideological ax to the state budget. I am simply taking a fresh look.”

The article quotes Dallas Woodhouse, state director of Americans for Prosperity, predicting a “major overhaul” of state government and North Carolina’s tax code. The corporate income tax will disappear, and the personal income tax will be cut at least in half, Woodhouse predicts.

In fact, Senate leader Phil Berger this week floated the idea of eliminating income taxes.

Health insurance market

The state has received a $74 million federal grant to set up an online marketplace for health insurance, a key component of the new federal health care law.

The Internet insurance mall would be for small businesses or individuals not insured through their jobs. The money would be used for getting the guts of the system ready.

According to the grant application the state Department of Insurance submitted last year, more than half the money would be used by the state Department of Health and Human Services to link the software that creates the website to an existing software program called NC FAST, which is used by DHHS and county social services departments.

Gov. Pat McCrory has not said how he wants the state to approach the health care law – whether he wants the state to run its own exchange, whether the state will run its exchange with the federal government, or whether North Carolina will tell the U.S. government to do all the work.

For his part, Senate leader Phil Berger said Wednesday that he did not want a state or state-federal exchange.

Staff writers Bruce Siceloff, Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

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