Republican legislators are making another effort this year to cut off state funding for “sanctuary cities” that refuse to enforce federal immigration policies.
Four GOP House lawmakers filed a bill Wednesday that would withhold tax revenues from beer and wine sales, telecommunications and natural gas from local governments that violate the state’s 2015 ban on sanctuary-city policies. The new bill, called the “Citizens Protection Act of 2017,” also includes other provisions that crack down on immigrants in the country illegally.
The North Carolina bill comes amid President Donald Trump’s proposal to take away federal grant money from sanctuary cities. The sponsors are Reps. Harry Warren of Salisbury, Jeff Collins of Rocky Mount, Jonathan Jordan of Jefferson and Jay Adams of Hickory.
The proposal to penalize sanctuary cities appears to be softer than a measure that passed the Senate last year but never got a vote in the House. The 2016 bill would have cut off a full year of state funding for school construction projects and local street projects to cities or counties that violate the state ban. Any local government in violation after 60 days would have lost a second year of funding.
The new bill limits the penalties to certain utility and alcohol tax revenues, which would likely involve less funding than cuts to school construction and street money.
The 2015 bill banning sanctuary cities prompted protests. At the time, Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale said the policies were “a welcome mat to come on in if you’re a criminal and you’re here illegally.”
Immigration “sanctuary” policies differ between towns. Carrboro instructed its police several years ago to ignore deportation orders for immigrants here illegally if they aren’t wanted for other crimes, although the policy is no longer active. Chapel Hill police have had a policy to follow deportation orders but won’t ask about a suspect’s immigration status.
A spokesman for the N.C. League of Municipalities said the organization is “ unaware of any North Carolina cities or towns that have violated the provisions of the 2015 law.”
Another provision of the new immigration bill filed Wednesday would make it a felony to make, sell or possess a fake ID – with an exemption for fake IDs used for underage alcohol and tobacco purchases, which would remain a misdemeanor.
A final provision gives judges additional tools to deny bail to immigrants here illegally who are charged with a variety of crimes.