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North Carolina immigration law could harm 170,000 citizen children
Madeline Daniels (Former Staff)Children of Immigrants
Washington – North Carolina’s House Bill 318, the so-called “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” has the potential to harm more than 170,000 U.S. citizen children living in the state, according to NC Child and First Focus.
The organizations’ analysis of the legislation and its impact on North Carolina children and families, How Does North Carolina’s HB 318 Impact Children?, raises concerns about the safety and well-being of the state’s growing immigrant population and says that the bill threatens children’s access to critical services, including education.
HB 318 was signed into law by Governor McCrory on October 28. The legislation restricts the types of identification that can be used to establish identity or residency before justices, clerks, magistrates, police officers, or “other government official.” It specifically targets new Americans by restricting the use of a common form of identification used by immigrants issued by foreign consulates.
The analysis finds that the inclusion of “other government official” is of particular concern to the state’s U.S. citizen children living in mixed-status families because it could be broadly interpreted to include educators and service providers. Without valid identification, parents may face challenges in enrolling their children in school, obtaining birth certificates, and accessing other critical services on behalf of their children.
“If the term ‘government official’ is applied broadly to include school administrators and social workers, more than 170,000 U.S. citizen children will face additional barriers to accessing public education and basic health services,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier, not harder, for all children to grow up healthy and well-educated.”
“Family values are American values, and we have been calling on policymakers to consider the impact of their decisions on children and parents. But children continue to be an afterthought in immigration policies like this that devalue them and ignore their best interests,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “North Carolina’s HB 318 is a perfectly horrible example of how misguided policy can have dire consequences on the basic rights of our children to obtain their birth certificates, receive an education, and access healthcare. We caution federal and state lawmakers against harming their children by following in North Carolina’s footsteps.”
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NC Child advances public policies that improve the lives of North Carolina’s children. We work statewide to ensure that all children are healthy, safe, well-educated, and economically secure by engaging communities, and informing and influencing decision-makers. Visit www.ncchild.org for more information.
First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.org.