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Extremists in North Carolina Legislature Advance Harsh Anti-Immigration Policy…What?

09 December 2015

On 29 September 2015 Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina, signed SESSION LAW 2015-294/ HOUSE BILL 318. The legislation is referred to as the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act.” The text summarizes the legislation as follows:

AN ACT TO REQUIRE E-VERIFY COMPLIANCE IN CERTAIN GOVERNMENTAL CONTRACTS, TO PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN CONSULATE OR EMBASSY DOCUMENTS MAY NOT BE USED TO DETERMINE A PERSON’S IDENTIFICATION OR RESIDENCE FOR GOVERNMENTAL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT PURPOSES, TO PROHIBIT ADOPTION OF SANCTUARY CITY ORDINANCES, AND TO PROHIBIT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES FROM SEEKING CERTAIN WAIVERS.

Before passage of this legislation, there was tremendous opposition raised by various individuals and groups. Without doubt, that opposition remains. The title and content of the legislation show it to be an effort to prevent the adverse impact on employment opportunities for those in the country legally by the hiring of undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants are those who enter the United States without legal permission or through the use of false papers. Given that this legislation is about protecting citizens who are in this country legally from the negative employment consequences of having illegal immigrants in the country, I simply do not understand the opposition. I am open to having that opposition explained in terms that present facts and reason.

I find no fact or reason in the arguments put forth by those opposing this legislation. For example, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) published a press release on 13 October 2015 headlined “Extremists in North Carolina Legislature Advance Harsh Anti-Immigration Policy” that said, “The North Carolina legislature recently passed House Bill 318, which prevents local policymakers and public safety officials from developing fair immigration policies.” Later, the release reads, “This bill has an extreme and far-reaching impact on members of the immigrant community and North Carolina as a whole. We call on the people of North Carolina to oppose HB 318 and stand against its hateful treatment of individuals who only want to work hard to provide a better life for their families.”

In what LULAC released, I do not see a single fact that supports the contention this legislation is the result of supporters not wanting “fair immigration policy” or acting out of hate. Further, the statements indicate illegally breaking into a country is justified or should be excused because those breaking in “…only want to work hard to provide a better life for their families.” Evidently, allowing this kind of illegal activity is what opponents of the legislation see as “fair immigration policy.” Then there is that ever-present question as to what is “fair.” How does fair look in practice? The LULAC position is representative of that put forth by opponents of this legislation. Their thinking on the matter could easily extend to the homes of Americans. That would mean an undocumented immigrant could, like breaking into our country, break into my home and justifiably insist on staying there without regard to my legal rights. Fairness considers the rights of all people.

Further, some will argue that the presence of undocumented immigrants does not adversely impact employment opportunities for Americans. Many of those who make this argument say that illegal immigrants are simply doing work that Americans will not do. There is research that appears to support this position, but in my estimation does not pass the common sense test. I believe the author of an article titled “The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration” successfully challenges this claim of no adverse impact. The gist of the challenge is that illegal immigrants will work for low wages and, thereby, depress compensation below what is required to attract American workers. This condition disrupts the normal interaction between supply and demand. That is, the demand for workers is satisfied by low-wage employees to the point that those needing and even deserving higher wages will not work for compensation comparable to what illegal immigrants are paid. Without illegal immigrants, demand for workers will raise wages and make it more advantageous to work than to be on welfare.

Beyond rebutting the arguments made for protecting and accepting illegal immigrants are other considerations. For instance, an article headlined “N.C. General Assembly bill could affect local immigration efforts” posted on 9 September 2015 by Michele Alfini states, “Three percent of all undocumented immigrants in the United States live in North Carolina, according to the Department of Homeland Security.” Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in America range from eleven to twenty million. At eleven million, we have approximately 330,000 illegal immigrants in North Carolina. An article headlined “NC House Passes E-Verify and Sanctuary Cities Bill” quotes Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) as saying, “Illegal aliens cost the state of North Carolina some $1.7 billion net, after all consideration of what they produce in taxes and whatnot toward government support.” Finally, “Illegal Immigrants Surge Across the US Southern Border at Record Rate,” an article by Loren Gutentag, says. “With nearly 5,000 unaccompanied children caught in October and almost 3,000 caught in the first half of November, The Washington Times reports that it signals how smuggling cartels and would-be illegal immigrants are paying close attention to the careless border enforcement in the U.S.”

The clear picture from the discussion above is one where there is a tremendous push to allow illegal immigrants to remain in this country and basically be treated as citizens. My contention is that the moral argument (they just want to work and support their families) does not justify such illegal action. Then the assertion that employment opportunities for Americans is not adversely affected by the presence of illegal immigrants and that they do work that Americans will not do proves faulty when examined in light of the interaction between supply and demand. This discussion also points to the need to incentivize those who are unemployed legal American residents to seriously seek employment. Add to all of this, the sizeable number of illegal immigrants in North Carolina, the tremendous cost of those persons to the state (taxpayers), and the surge still happening at the southern border.

This is a situation that requires protecting the employment opportunities of North Carolinians. The Protect North Carolina Workers Act is a step in that direction. If anything, it does not go far enough.

Perhaps the “extremists” are those persons and organizations that advocate for and seek to justify the actions of illegal immigrants to the point of disregarding the Constitution, applicable laws, and what is fair to American citizens.

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