Humanitarian organization Church World Service strongly opposes North Carolina’s anti-immigrant House Bill 318 that recently passed the General Assembly. This bill takes away local jurisdictions’ right to determine how they practice community policing. This type of legislation creates a hostile environment, leading to discrimination and racial profiling for all immigrants and people of color, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. North Carolina’s General Assembly has turned its back on proven community policing practices that foster community safety and protect immigrants who are victims and witnesses of crime.
“This attack on so-called ‘sanctuary’ cities in North Carolina is only the latest symptom of harmful rhetoric that has spread throughout the country,” said CWS President and CEO Rev. John L. McCullough. “We are called by our faith traditions to welcome our immigrant brothers and sisters. As Pope Francis’ words remind us, ‘We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.’ The North Carolina General Assembly has lost their way, so we must unite and stand up to those who try and oppress our brothers and sisters and ask Governor McCrory to veto H.B. 318.”
H.B. 318 proves to be a mean-spirited proposal designed to exclude immigrants by prohibiting government officials from accepting consular or municipal identification. This would impact a broader population of North Carolinians such as those who cannot afford government issued identification and students who often rely on identification provided by their university. Despite North Carolina law enforcement officials vocalizing their concerns about the importance of discretion to check any identification presented, the General Assembly passed this ill-conceived bill 70 votes in favor and 43 opposed.
Sufyan Abdallah, a refugee from Iraq, was one of many community members advocating against H.B. 318. “I have been welcomed into this great state of North Carolina from a place of trial and persecution,” said Mr. Abdallah. “Now, I’m fearful that if H.B. 318 becomes law, my family, friends and I could face discrimination simply because of who we are. I pray that Governor McCrory vetoes this harsh bill so it does not become law.”
H.B. 318 is an attack not just on immigrants, but on homeless and all low-income individuals. The bill also prohibits North Carolina from making exceptions to time limits, as allowed under federal law, for the length of time that an individual without children and looking for a job may receive supplemental nutrition assistance, causing an increase in food insecurity and hunger in North Carolina communities.
The Church World Service network of refugees, immigrants, service providers and religious communions reject this harmful legislation and appeal to Governor McCrory to search his heart for compassion and justice and veto this harmful legislation.