State Politics

GOP legislators file bill to give undocumented immigrants limited IDs

Rep. Jay Adams of Hickory.
Rep. Jay Adams of Hickory.

Five North Carolina Republican representatives want to document undocumented immigrants as a way to cut down on identity theft.

House Bill 794, filed Tuesday, would give undocumented immigrants limited IDs and would increase penalties for counterfeit documents in an effort to reduce identity theft.

The bill would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain “a limited identification card” if they are “a resident of this state and ... not lawfully present in the United States.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Harry Warren of Rowan County, Rep. Jeff Collins of Franklin and Nash counties, Rep. Jonathan C. Jordan of Ashe and Watauga counties, Rep. Jay Adams of Catawba County and Rep. Mike Clampitt of Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties.

Those seeking a limited ID card would have to complete a driver’s license application and agree to a criminal history check, including being fingerprinted. Minors younger than 16 would not have to agree to a criminal history check to get an ID. The background check must show no criminal history.

The IDs would resemble driver’s licenses in several ways, but would include “a clearly legible statement that the identification card is not valid as a means of demonstrating eligibility for voter registration or for public benefits, does not legitimize the holder’s presence in the United States or the State of North Carolina, and is not valid for any purpose other than demonstrating identity.”

The Secretary of Transportation would set a fee for the ID card, according to the bill. Annual renewals would cost $25.

The state would keep a record of all people who receive a limited ID card. But the possession of a limited ID card alone “shall not be used as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest, or detention in circumstances in which a person who possesses some other form of identification would not be criminally investigated, arrested, or detained.”

The bill also would add penalties for the sale of certain fraudulent forms of ID. Current law includes penalties for possession and manufacture of the documents.

The bill also would make it either a Class 1 misdemeanor or a Class G felony to possess, manufacture or sell fraudulent IDs, including: license, learner’s permit, limited ID card or special ID card provisions. Currently it is a misdemeanor.

In 2015, the House voted 70-43 to restrict forms of ID for non-citizens.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett