North Carolina’s own Arizona-style, anti-immigrant bill is still alive in the House, but your voices can help defeat this bill. Click here to take action now.
Recently, House Bill 786 was amended so that undocumented immigrants wishing to obtain a “restricted driving permit” have to show that they have pre-paid one year of car insurance, which statistics show costs over $1,000 on average in North Carolina. Few undocumented families are going to be able to pay that amount of money up front. They will also face a myriad of other hurdles, including passing a strict criminal background check, providing fingerprints and admitting their undocumented status, proving their presence in North Carolina for a year, and paying fees for the permit itself which could cost up to hundreds of dollars.
“People should understand that they while they may qualify for the proposed permit, they may not be able to prove that they qualify,” said Dani Moore, director of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the N.C. Justice Center. “People will need to have written proof that documents their residence in North Carolina throughout an entire year.”
Moore said that in her experience managing a program to help with more than 2,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) applications throughout the state, she has seen first-hand that many immigrants lack written proof for each month of residence. This evidence, in the form of bills, receipts, contracts, medical records –must include the name of the applicant and not simply another family member. It is very challenging for many undocumented immigrants to show this kind of proof.
“We believe that the lack of proof, plus the astronomical costs associated with the permit, are going to harm a lot of people who should be able to qualify,” said Raul Pinto, an attorney with the ACLU. He continued: “The offer of a driving permit is a false promise for many people, but the punishments for undocumented people are all too real.”
- Immigrants will feel the full effects of the negative provisions of the bill if the driving permit remains out of reach. Their cars will be seized and impounded if they drive without a license or insurance and they will be subject to arrest and detention if they cannot prove their lawful immigration status to any local law enforcement officer, among many other restrictions.
- Citizens and legal residents will also be affected as law enforcement officers may detain anyone they suspect of being undocumented. U.S. citizens and legal residents who speak a different language or dress differently than a “typical” American could be subject to detention if they cannot prove their immigration status on the spot. U.S. citizens’ cars will also be seized if their insurance lapses even for a brief period.
- This bill will likely cost North Carolinians millions of dollars – money that should be directed towards creating jobs, and improving health care and education for all North Carolina residents. We don’t need to be spending our taxpayer dollars targeting those aspiring Americans who simply come here to work and contribute, or U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants who look, speak, or dress differently than others.
Sources: NC Justice Center, ACLU-NC
-Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate