Alamance NAACP Fights Against Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Worker NC House Bill 318

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Protests against NC House Bill 318 at the NC State Capitol. Photo by alfonso_tobar@yahoo.com

Beginning in September, the Alamance NAACP organized with local Latino, law enforcement, and religious leaders to fight against the NC legislature’s anti-immigrant, anti-labor HB 318. (For more on the bill’s devastating effects see our letter-to-the-editor below.) We were a sponsor of the NC NAACP press conference against HB 318 at the NC General Assembly, and coordinated the Burlington Police Department’s participation. The BPD had concerns about provisions in the bill that would have eliminated their community-based ID card program. Read the Times News article here.

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Burlington Police Capt. Chad Slaughter at the NCGA, speaking in support of their ID program.

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of ours and many others, a last minute provision in a technical corrections bill may allow the ID program to continue. Tragically, many other provisions in the bill that will have a devastating effect on immigrant families and the unemployed remain. Read the Times News article here.

Throughout October, in an effort to encourage Governor McCrory to veto the entire bill, our branch organized carpools to attend many of the protests against the bill at the NC Capitol and Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh.

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Alamance NAACP members and local immigrant advocates protest at the Capitol in Raleigh.

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Protests at the Governor’s Mansion.

Governor McCrory unfortunately chose to sacrifice the welfare of thousands of people in our state for political posturing, and signed the bill on October 28th. In response, our Branch was a sponsor of a press conference in Greensboro to bear witness to McCrory callous appeal to his extremist base. Read the Times News article here.

While the politically cynical and morally indefensible HB 318 has become law, we have begun to strengthen our relationships with those who organized to resisted this law. By working together, we are building the coalition we will need to win the next fight.

Our letter to the editor:

Laws based on who benefits, not on legal, economic or moral principles.

Young people looking to escape poverty and violence; fathers who are willing to work dangerous, low-paying jobs to send money to their families; desperate parents willing to divide their families for years for a chance at a better life. These are the people viewed as dangerous criminals by our state elected officials Riddell, Ross and Gunn when they sponsored and voted for NC House Bill 318. There is no evidence that undocumented immigrants are more predisposed to criminality than legal residents, but for the politically powerful, falsely depicting minorities as a threat while attacking the poor is a time honored strategy.

In this case our representatives seek to shift the blame for high unemployment from their failed economic policies to vulnerable minorities, who often work in harsh conditions for below poverty wages. The law goes even further in attacking the poor with a state mandate to take away federal food assistance from people unable to find work.

Our representatives seek to shift the blame for their failed criminal justice and immigration policies to vulnerable minorities. Tragically, in the name of protecting us from criminals, they are undermining actual crime prevention. They are burdening local law enforcement by diverting local resources into ineffective immigration enforcement and away from effective strategies to fight local crime. By prohibiting community-based IDs, they are undermining community/law enforcement relationships that increase the likelihood that crimes will be reported and prevented.

Our lawmakers have also made allowances for illegal activity by employers. Farm work is conspicuously exempt from new rules in the law that require more employers to check the immigration status of new employees. Half of all farm workers do not have legal status or the rights and protections that go along with it. This law makes allowances for illegal activity by employers in the name of business profits and cheaper prices for groceries, home improvements, meals at restaurants, domestic work, and home child care, while perpetuating crimes of wage theft, hazardous working conditions and racial discrimination. Our lawmakers are writing laws and selectively enforcing laws based on who benefits, not on sound legal, economic or moral principles.

Noah Read, Secretary, Alamance NAACP

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