Opinion

The Clinton Campaign Has It All Wrong On NC’s Illegal Immigration Protections

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has characterized immigration legislation that passed the North Carolina General Assembly as “simply unacceptable.” The Protect North Carolina Workers Act, which I sponsored, would enhance our state’s ability to deal with immigration issues such as “sanctuary cities” and the harms associated with invalid forms of identification.

The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Pat McCrory, who has already expressed opposition to Mrs. Clinton on the subject of sanctuary cities. But a top aide on Clinton’s team issued a sharp rebuke over the legislation.

“This anti-immigrant bill is more evidence of the influence Donald Trump has on the Republican Party,” said Lorella Praeli, who is Latino outreach director of Hillary for America. “The negative impact on the immigrant community would be immeasurable.”

Contrary to the claims made by the Democrat frontrunner’s campaign, the Protect North Carolina Workers Act implements reforms that improve safety in our communities and provides proper protection of our state and local tax dollars.

We’ve seen what happens when we don’t enforce our nation’s immigration laws. The tragic murder of 32-year-old Katie Steinle this summer by seven-time convicted felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez – an illegal immigrant who was deported five times – was made possible by San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city.”

These “safe haven” ordinances prohibit local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal authorities to enforce our national immigration laws, and provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants who commit crimes — allowing them to evade proper justice. Mr. Lopez-Sanchez even admitted to police that he came to San Francisco because he knew officials would not deport him.

The Tar Heel State has experienced its own series of crimes committed by people who are in the country illegally. The Protect North Carolina Workers Act prohibits local governments in North Carolina from adopting sanctuary ordinances that provide refuge for illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

To achieve quasi-legal status in the United States, many illegal immigrants also utilize a “Consular Identification Card” to open bank accounts, rent property, establish utilities, potentially obtain driver’s licenses, and access public benefits to which they are not entitled under the law. But Consular IDs, issued by foreign governments, are never authenticated; the holder’s identity is not even verified when the card is issued. Consular cards are useful in the U.S. only for illegal aliens, because legal immigrants — by definition — already have validated U.S. government-issued documents. And according to the FBI, Consular cards can be easily faked.

The bill that I and my colleagues sponsored prohibits the use of Consular Identification cards (and other similar forms of unsecure documentation) for the purposes of determining a person’s identity or residency.

The Protect North Carolina Workers Act also requires state agencies and local governments in North Carolina (and the contractors that do business with them) to abide by federal law and utilize E-Verify to determine legal work status. Expecting local governments to uphold U.S. law is not only common sense; it’s good government. That’s something we should encourage, rather than tear down, to score political points.

I am troubled that Mrs. Clinton, as someone who seeks to lead our great nation, finds these common-sense reforms to be “simply unacceptable.” I believe shielding law-breakers from proper justice to be simply unacceptable. I believe allowing illegal immigrants to take American jobs to be simply unacceptable. I believe allowing people to skirt the law with fraudulent IDs to be simply unacceptable.

With the Protect North Carolina Workers Act, our state is sending a clear message that we will no longer accept the unacceptable.

While Hillary Clinton may not agree, I hope our next president believes that our nation and its citizens — and the rights of those who are legally allowed to live and work here — are worth protecting.

Chris Millis represents the 16th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives.