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Warren proposes limited ID cards for undocumented immigrants

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Undocumented immigrants could obtain state-issued identification under a bill introduced last week by state Rep. Harry Warren, R-Salisbury.

Warren’s bill, known as House Bill 749, aims to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain “limited identification cards” and increase penalties for people manufacturing counterfeit identification documents and Warren says the identification cards would help differentiate between undocumented immigrants without a criminal record and those with a criminal history.

“This is a tool for law enforcement,” Warren said. “This does not put us in the middle of the immigration issue.”

Roughly 340,000 undocumented immigrants live in North Carolina, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

“We can’t ignore the fact that they’re here,” Warren said.

The limited identification cards could not be used to obtain public benefits. All applicants would need to submit to a criminal background check. Those who fail the background check would not be able to obtain the limited identification cards. Information submitted to obtain the cards, however, could not be used to deport an undocumented immigrant.

There’s even a specific provision of Warren’s bill related to criminal investigations and the limited identification cards.

“Possession of a limited identification card … standing alone, shall not be used as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest, or detention in circumstances in which a person who possesses some other form of identification would not be criminally investigated, arrested or detained,” Warren’s bill states.

In addition to the limited identification card, Warren’s bill will seek to make the manufacture or sale of a specific kind of fraudulent identification card a felony. The felony charge would apply to state or federal ID cards that contain a picture, a military ID card with a picture, a passport and an “alien registration card” containing a picture.

House Bill 749 is similar, but not identical, to a measure Warren introduced last year. The prior proposal would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain a “restricted drivers permit.” The newest proposal eliminates that idea.

Warren said he feels good about his bill’s chances of making it through the N.C. General Assembly. He’s split various provisions up of the prior measure into two individual bills. Warren said provisions in House Bill 749 have received bipartisan support.

Rep. Carl Ford, R-China Grove, was among the Republicans who expressed opposition to Warren’s prior bill.

The most significant challenge, he said, will be getting House Bill 749 through the N.C. General Assembly before a date known as the “crossover deadline,” which requires certain kinds of bills to pass one body of the General Assembly in order to receive further consideration.

Last week, Warren’s bill was referred to the Judiciary I committee, where it currently sits.

The crossover deadline is April 27, which means that Warren’s bill would need to advance out of committee and pass the State House in order to receive consideration in the Senate this year.

In addition to Warren, primary sponsors of House bill 749 include the following state representatives: Jeff Collins, R-Rocky Mount; Johnathan Jordan, R-Jefferson; Jay Adams R-Hickory. Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, signed on as a cosponsor.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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