Onslow Co. Rep. proposes letting residents sue over immigration enforcement

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As controversy about immigration policy swirls at the national level, state lawmakers are drawing controversy as well.

Earlier this week, lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow private citizens to take local governments and police departments to court if they aren’t enforcing immigration laws.

The proposal has the Latino community concerned.

“You develop this sense of fear,” said Raleigh resident Pepe Caudillo. “I mean, I’m here right now, but am I going to be here tomorrow?”

Caudillo has lived in Raleigh for 20 years. He’s from Mexico and has a green card, but says discussions at the federal and state levels have him concerned.

“People take an oath for their office,” said Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow County), one of the bill’s sponsors. “The oath says you follow the law and they break the oath. Someone should have some recourse to say that’s a no-no.”

If the people bringing the case are successful, the noncompliant agency could be fined up to $10,000 per day.

Durham Immigration Attorney Ricardo Velasquez is not only concerned about what the bill would mean to the Latino community but also what it would mean for the court system.

“I imagine you’re going to have a whole bunch of folks with their own personal immigration policy trying to enforce it in superior court,” he said.

But Cleveland said the law is necessary to protect America.

“As long as you’re here legally, fine and dandy, do whatever you want to do,” he said. “But when you cross my borders and break the law, you’re not an immigrant, you’re a criminal.”

Cleveland’s bill has been referred to a House judiciary committee.

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