A coalition of Latino organizations want to meet with legislators this
week to talk about House Bill 786.
The bill is called the RECLAIM NC Act.
The proposals include allowing undocumented immigrants to register for driving privileges. However, it's part of broader reform measures that increase immigration enforcement in the state and allow police to check immigration status for those they stop. A person could also be detained in some cases with "reasonable suspicion" of illegal status.
Many groups, like the N.C. Justice Center, claim the bill is not actually designed for public safety.
Those who oppose the bill say it will lead to racial profiling by law enforcement, the needless separation of families and will also cost the state millions.
Rep. Harry Warren is a sponsor of the bill and said the fears surrounding HB 786 are unfounded. Warren said he has support from Latino groups like Jesus Ministries.
Warren said there were many stakeholders involved in drafting the legislation, which stands for Reasonable Enactment of Comprehensive Legislation Addressing Immigration Matters in North Carolina Act.
Juvencio Rocha Peralta, who is the executive director of AMEXCAN, a non-profit organization that assists Latinos, said when they went to lobby legislators, they were happy to hear what they had to say.
"We took them hundreds and hundreds of signatures from citizens who are opposed to the bill," Peralta said. "We held educational forums -- 18 of them -- across eastern and central North Carolina and asked the people what they thought about this bill."
Peralta said he has not met one Latino who thinks the bill is fair or wants the bill.
Warren said HB 786 is not about addressing illegal immigration or enforcing immigration laws.
"This bill is about law enforcement and public safety," Warren said.
Under the law, an officer can ask for documentation papers.
Warren said the law he sponsored is not like the law in Arizona where the Supreme Court did allow officers to ask any person for their documentation papers.
Warren said the N.C. law won't allow an officer to ask for documentation papers without a good reason.
"An officer has to have probable cause to ask for documentation," Warren said. "They aren't just going to stop a car and ask for documentation. The law doesn't provide for racial profiling."
But Peralta said he is a naturalized citizen and there is nothing to prevent that kind of racial profiling because it is up to the officer.
"It is very obvious I am Latino," Peralta points out. "What stops an officer from just looking at me and asking for documentation or any other citizen? Nothing. It has always been up to the discretion of the officer. And we already know racial profiling already takes place."
Peralta said most law officers will do their job in a responsible manner, but he fears the few who won't.
"We have concerns that we may be discriminated against in other ways as well," Peralta said. "For example, we may be discriminated against when showing this permit at the store or the bank, or our place of employment."
Another provision of the law states Latino drivers who have the temporary driver's license be able to show proof they have insurance for a year in
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