The RECLAIM NC Act currently under debate in the NC legislature is generating considerable debate as to what is promises to and requests of undocumented immigrants in NC. Experts current believe about 320,000 immigrants reside within the state and the bill provides a means by which they can obtain NC driver's licenses, although it does come with some strings attached:
- Immigrants seeking a license would have to be fingerprinted and disclose their immigration status (lawful or unlawful) to state authorities
- All immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, would be required to obtrain a driving permit or state ID card
- Law enforcement officers would have the authority to detain drivers and passengers for up to two hours to determine any given individuals immigration status
- NC employers may be more easily charged with knowningly hiring an unlawful immigrant for employment, causing them to violate federal laws
The lure of obtaining a driver's license has drawn considerable interest from immigrant populations, but the intended and unintended consequences of the bill are causing concern that the bill may actually do more to harm immigrants in the long-term compared to the relatively benefits provided. While the bill has supporters and detractors on all sides of the political spectrum, the fact remains that the immigration debate is occuring both on the federal and state level. While no set timetable has been issued for determining the bills fate, the summer of 2013 promises to be a season of debate for the overall immigration system both in North Carolina and nationwide.