NC House Select Committee on Immigration Wraps Up with a Whimper

While the stakes are very high – the lives and livelihoods of thousands of NC families hang in the balance – it has always been hard to take this Committee seriously. It has been clear from the start that this Committee’s goal was never to engage in real dialogue, but rather to stack the deck in favor of increased enforcement against immigrants. For example, at its first meeting nearly a year ago, its first witness was Sheriff Terry Johnson of Alamance County, who testified in favor of the 287(g) program. One problem: at the time, Sheriff Johnson was under investigation by the US Department of Justice for abusing the program by engaging in rampant racial profiling. He has since been found in violation of the program and it was immediately shut down.

There was only one meeting that was open for public comment, and the NC Council of Churches helped collect more than 175 comments from across the state (including more than 50 from clergy). Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and other pastors, including Rev. Isaac Villegas of Chapel Hill Mennonite Church, spoke eloquently in favor of adopting a welcoming posture toward new American families instead of trying to divide communities, separate families, and drive people away. After this March 2012 meeting, the Committee decided to wait on the US Supreme Court decision on Arizona law SB1070. Of course, in June the Court struck down most of those provisions. The one provision that it did not strike down was left open to future legal challenges.

With this report, the Committee is in effect conceding that it cannot push for Arizona or Alabama-style legislation. While there is no doubt that some members of the General Assembly will cynically attempt to pass new measures that target immigrants, the immigrant rights community in North Carolina can stand proud. There are many battles that lay ahead, but at least for now disaster has been averted thanks to the courage of undocumented protesters and the strong immigrant rights partnerships that are being forged across the state. The NC Council of Churches is pleased to be part of these partnerships and is grateful for the many denominational leaders, pastors, and lay people who have spoken out on behalf of “welcoming the stranger.”

A powerful statement by the statewide We Are NC coalition summarizes the outcome of the Committee’s work:

The report’s release comes the same week as former President George W. Bush reiterated his support for reforming our broken immigration system; as a bipartisan Illinois state Senate voted in favor of undocumented immigrants’ access to driver licenses; and as House Speaker Thom Tillis stated that he has no interest in a sweeping anti-immigrant bill in North Carolina. While Rep. Harry Warren originally wanted to use this committee to explore harsh and vindictive legislation, like shutting off heat and utilities for undocumented immigrants, today’s report shows that public pressure has convinced the committee to pursue a new path.

We hope, as the committee recommended, that the state’s congressional delegates in Washington, DC take leading roles in shaping a just, fair and humane immigration policy that keeps families together, protects workers and supports businesses.. We also support the Committee’s clear recommendation that the 2013 General Assembly “solicit input from a wide array of interested stakeholders” and that North Carolina take a pragmatic approach to immigration policy.

However the political winds blow, we will continue our work to help make North Carolina a welcoming state for all people. You can join us by signing up for our monthly Faith + Immigration e-newsletter.


  1. JB Mann says

    These people in question aren’t new Americans, they are illegal aliens who have strained our resources, hurt our children’s education, driven up health care costs, flooded our legal system, stolen our identities, driven down wages of poor Americans, taken jobs that poor Americans would otherwise be doing and, in some cases, killed Americans (about 25 a day by drunk driving, murder, etc.).
    American citizens shouldn’t care where people are born but they should care about who and how many come to our country.
    Many studies indicate that the recent immigrant masses don’t want to become American citizens. They want jobs. Unlike previous immigrants, many don’t feel the need or desire to assimilate. Some even believe that land will be “reconquered” for Mexico.
    You seem willing to see which illegal immigrants will live up to the ideals you profess. I’m not willing to put my family and my country at physical and financial risk. We cannot as a country absorb the third-world poverty and continue to do good works for our people and the people of the world. You remind me of the good Samaritan who hits his brakes on a busy highway to allow a slow driver to merge off a ramp. You and the slow driver go merrily along while the rest of us are involved in a 50-car pileup behind you.

  2. JB Mann says

    Americans are kind people however we cannot as a country absorb such mass immigration, especially from one culture. We are a melting pot but cannot remain one with 10-20 million immigrants – who are here illegally.

    The Founding Fathers were emphatically insistent on protecting the country against indiscriminate mass immigration. They insisted on assimilation as a pre-condition, not an afterthought. Historian John Fonte assembled their wisdom, and it bears repeating:

    *George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”

    *In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily “incorporate himself into our society.”

    *Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family.”

    Hamilton further warned that “The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.”

    The survival of the American republic, Hamilton maintained, depends upon “the preservation of a national spirit and a national character.” “To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.”

    • Chris Liu-BeersChris Liu-Beers says

      America is a nation of values, founded on an idea -­‐ that all men and women are created equal. We hold these truths to be self-­evident that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they came from. So how we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us as Americans. We believe that families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, and that hard work should be rewarded. It’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American -­‐ it’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in this country. That’s why all Americans deserve a common sense immigration process, one that includes a roadmap for New Americans who aspire to be citizens.

    • Chris Liu-BeersChris Liu-Beers says

      We are proud of our position favoring hospitality toward New Americans. Immigrants help make our communities stronger, and our faith calls us to love our neighbors no matter where they were born.

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