The North Carolina House Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 last week to advance House Bill 63 (HB 63), otherwise known as the “Citizens Protection Act of 2017”, to strengthen the state’s existing anti-sanctuary law. Former Governor Pat McCrory (R) signed the anti-sanctuary law in 2015, which took a stand against sanctuary policies that limit or prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities and prohibit law enforcement from inquiring into the immigration status of individuals in custody. These policies, which proponents argue are meant to foster “trust” with law enforcement in immigrant communities, are often designed to protect criminal aliens from detection and removal from the United State. North Carolina’s 2015 law fell short by failing to include penalties to cities that choose to unlawfully maintain such policies.

Representatives Harry Warren (R-77), Jeff Collins (R-25), Jonathan Jordan (R-93), and Jay Adams (R-96) introduced HB 63 to require the state to withhold certain, but not all, state funding from jurisdictions that choose to shield criminal aliens from enforcement in defiance of the law. Specifically, sanctuary cities would only be ineligible to receive any funding from certain utility and alcohol tax revenue. Funding for hospitals, schools, and other essential operations will remain unaffected by the measure. “This is simply a deterrent to say, ‘Let’s keep everybody on the same page,’” Representative Warren explained to the committee.

The House of Representatives must approve HB 63 before it can be sent to the Senate for consideration. If the Senate passes HB 63, Governor Roy Cooper (D) must approve the measure or the legislature must override his veto for it to become law.