City of Charlotte to examine state immigration bill

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina lawmakers are taking aim at so-called sanctuary cities, including Charlotte. Critics say Charlotte offers extra protections to people who are in the country illegally.

State lawmakers pointed to the shooting of Katie Steinle in San Francisco. An undocumented immigr ant is charged with her murder.

Here in Charlotte, police are instructed not to ask crime victims or others about their immigration status.

North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill on sanctuary cities during the last day of the legislative session.

Immigr ants in Charlotte say they feel the climate has changed, and for Yolanda Garcia time has altered the cultural terrain. She's well known for owning a string of businesses in east Charlotte, after arriving in the state's from Mexico 44 years ago.

"I've worked very hard. Seven days, six days a week. Fourteen and 15 hours," Garcia said.

And at her styling salon, she's managed to bring many people along with her.

More than a dozen barbers from seven countries who are all legally licensed and documented. What evokes fear is one of the final measures passed by the North Carolina General Assembly.

House Bill 318 is just six pages, but it's the fine print section 15 that is raising new concerns, which are designed to deflect criminal activity. The bill says adoption of so-called sanctuary ordinances are prohibited.

Anna Suarez is with Charlotte's Latin American Coalition.

"This is setting a precedent nationally," she said. "We've seen bills like this in Arizona and Alabama, where communities who are trying to establish lives here are fearing for their lives."

"What I see are women crying, because they're gonna lose their husbands," says Victoria Gonzales, an attorney who has served families facing deportation.

"Our own immigration laws have created serious problems with undocumented aliens, because ever since 9-11, they've gotten stricter and stricter." Gonzales said.

Back at the styling salon Yolanda Garcia says her workers contribute to the economy.

"I've got 15 employees and I produce jobs."

Late Wednesday, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department issued the following statement through its spokesperson Rob Tufano.

"CMPD officers do not inquire about the immigration status of a victim or others they encounter. CMPD Officers do not have the authority to arrest if the only violation is being in the country illegally, which is civil not criminal – that authority rests with Federal Law Enforcement Agents.  We're currently reviewing the legislation."

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