A license to go after immigrants here illegally

April 11, 2013 

The Republicans in control of state government often talk of making North Carolina more competitive with other states. We thought that had to do with the state’s business climate, but now we see it also includes its hostile climate.

How is it going? Not so well on the business front, but on the hostile front we have a chance to catch Arizona.

Four House Republicans led by Rep. Harry Warren of Salisbury have rushed to make the filing deadline with a bill to crack down on immigrants here illegally. It’s called the Reclaiming NC Act, though it doesn’t say who took it.

We surmise that the culprits are the estimated 325,000 immigrants here illegally. The bill proposes better ways to get ahold of them and perhaps speed their deportation.

The bill provides a needed procedure that would allow such immigrants a chance to become legal drivers, but it proceeds to use that carrot to expose them to many sticks. They would have to submit to criminal background checks, and their driving permits would include images of their thumbprints.

Once they got on the road, things would get really tough. Police could check their immigration status and be allowed to detain them for 24 hours – “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person … is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” Using a phony license or someone else’s would be a felony. If undocumented immigrants were driving without a license or insurance, the state could seize and sell their vehicle.

If they do get arrested, such immigrants would find it harder to get out of jail and would have to repay the cost of their incarceration. It’s unclear whether they would have to pay if found not guilty. But, as the bill makes clear, they’re all guilty of one thing: stealing North Carolina.

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