Lawmakers Hear Impassioned Arguments on Illegal Immigration
Dozens of people spoke out Wednesday on whether North Carolina should regulate immigration as state lawmakers consider how to clamp down on the flow of illegal immigrants.
The House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration held a two-hour public hearing on the issue, but committee leaders said further meetings would be put off until the fall as the state awaits a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the legality of tough immigration restrictions in Arizona.
“If you’re not here legally, you are stealing from all the rest of us,” Cindy Caribou told lawmakers. “We cannot just open everything to everybody in the world.”
Several ministers said Christianity calls for people to help the downtrodden, including foreigners, and immigrant advocates said punishing illegal immigrants creates more problems than it solves.
Patricia Adams of the group We Are North Carolina said immigrant workers, many of whom are undocumented, are a critical component of North Carolina’s agricultural industry.
“We want our state to actually be inclusive, honorable and just, not just seem that way,” Adams said. “Legislators should stop dividing our communities and instead work for policies that unite us and make us stronger.”
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates North Carolina ranks ninth in population among the states with what it calls 325,000 unauthorized immigrants, defined as foreign-born citizens of other countries who aren’t legal immigrants.
The Republican-controlled state House is considering measures similar to laws enacted in Alabama and Arizona that restrict access to public services by undocumented workers and empower local law enforcement officers to identify those in the country illegally.
Federal authorities who enforce immigration laws have generally discouraged such state-based initiatives.