Gov. McCrory, it's your move. In North Carolina, a bill that would restrict forms of ID for non-citizens and prevent local governments from having "sanctuary city" policies has landed on the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory (R). Under the proposed law, local governments would also be banned from preventing their law enforcement officers from asking a suspect's immigration status. The Republican sponsor of the bill said that it will address the problem of "illegal aliens" having "a sense of belonging here."
North Carolina's proposed law would make the ID cards issued by some cities and consular offices to immigrants invalid as a form of identification. But these cards are used by both legal and undocumented immigrants to open bank accounts and identify themselves to city, court and law enforcement officials. It serves no constructive purpose to make it harder for people to present themselves to authorities. It will only increase the amount of time and resources spent by such officials to identify North Carolina residents.
The portion of the law that takes aim at sanctuary cities in the state is equally problematic. These are cities and towns that have decided that the best strategy for community policing is to leave immigration enforcement to the feds. Yet under the proposed law, local law enforcement officials would basically be turned into immigration agents, despite lacking specialized training in this area. This would make it harder for them to do their primary job of keeping their communities safe, because immigrants would be hesitant to come forward as witnesses or victims out of fear of deportation. It would also open the door to racial profiling and discrimination against North Carolina's rapidly growing Latino population, a demographic that more than doubled between 2000 and 2010.
It's no wonder that this bill has provoked strong opposition. Ironically, for an act that is titled the "Workers Protection Act," the North Carolina AFL-CIO is against it. They say it would make undocumented workers less likely to report wage theft or unsafe working conditions. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley have spoken out against it. Local editorial boards, Hispanic advocacy groups, the North Carolina NAACP and the North Carolina Council of Churches also want the governor to veto this bill, recognizing that it is potentially harmful to their fellow residents.
If nothing else, McCrory ought to consider the tremendous economic costs that go hand in hand with anti-immigrant legislation. After passing its "papers, please" law, Arizona lost millions in convention and tourism revenue. Georgia's harsh immigration law resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the state's agricultural industries. The inevitable lawsuits over such measures come at a steep price too; the city of Hazleton, Pa., was ordered to pay $1.4 million in legal costs for defending its immigration law, which ended up being struck down in the courts anyway. Is this dead-end path where McCrory wants to take his state?
It has become popular lately to take aim at sanctuary cities due to several high-profile crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. However, such criticism is based on the myth that in these cities, undocumented immigrants can run amok without fear of authorities. This is not true. In sanctuary cities, immigration enforcement is simply left to the federal government, where it rightfully belongs. Given the nativist sentiments being stoked by the current GOP front-runner, it is imperative that McCrory does not succumb to the "Trump effect" and turn his state into a national symbol of intolerance and exclusion.
North Carolina's proposed immigration law would demonize immigrants, threaten communities and hinder local policing. Gov. McCrory should veto this misguided bill.
Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City. He is also an NBCNews.com contributor.