Senate Passes Legislation Creating Penalties for Local Governments, Public Universities that Willingly Violate Immigration Laws


The North Carolina Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would create penalties for local governments, law enforcement agencies and public universities that act as ‘sanctuary cities’ and ‘sanctuary universities’ by defying federal and state laws against illegal immigration.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a law to prevent counties and cities from enacting ordinances that violate or ignore federal immigration laws. But since the law went into effect, several law enforcement officials have contacted legislators to blow the whistle that some local governments are not complying with the law. And in recent months, officials in the cities of Winston-Salem and Charlotte have made public statements casting doubt on their willingness to abide by the law. So Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) filed legislation to:

  • Require the state attorney general to accept, maintain records of and investigate (with help, if he chooses, from the State Bureau of Investigation) complaints from any citizen who suspects a local government or local law enforcement agency is ignoring immigration law and report quarterly to the legislature on the findings;
  • Direct that all Powell funding for city streets, and revenue from beer and wine taxes, telecommunication taxes, sales taxes on video programming, taxes on piped natural gases and scrap tire disposal taxes be allocated to local governments that comply with the law;
  • Waive a local government’s immunity from civil liability if an illegal alien commits a crime in an area acting as a sanctuary city;
  • Prohibit the use of “community IDs” often issued by private organizations to illegal aliens. This can mislead law enforcement by giving a false appearance of legal status;
  • Create uniform penalties for E-Verify violations;
  • Require the UNC System President and Board of Governors to investigate complaints of university policies that limit or restrict the enforcement of immigration laws and communication with federal law enforcement agencies;
  • Revoke the ability of offending public universities to receive state funds not earmarked for a specific purpose; and
  • Require the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety to partner with the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to train and allow state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

“While we welcome those who come to our state legally, it is alarming some illegal aliens are ‘demanding’ that government officials ignore laws that keep our citizens safe – even going so far as to say we should decriminalize so-called ‘minor’ offenses such as driving under the influence of alcohol. It is equally disturbing that some local officials wish to roll out the welcome mat to these illegal aliens and ignore federal and state laws. We shouldn’t have to pass a bill to incentivize officials to follow the law, but hopefully this legislation will finally get them to do the right thing,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.)