MEDIA RELEASE: House Bill 786 would come at high cost to local communities for federal immigration enforcement

RALEIGH (July 12, 2013) — The RECLAIM NC Act (House Bill 786), currently being considered by the NC House, would create expanded enforcement protocols for individuals suspected of being undocumented immigrants and allow for a restricted driver’s permit for undocumented immigrants. Yet HB 786 also comes at a potentially high cost to local governments, according to a new report from the North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center and Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.

“HB 786 represents a potentially high cost to local government to enforce federal immigration law at a time when federal immigration reform could lead to significant changes,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center and co-author of the report. “By diverting resources from important community priorities, this legislation will also be unlikely to create the public safety outcomes that are promised.”

North Carolina’s local communities already incur high costs for immigration detention because of the early and active participation of the state in the federal Secure Communities and 287(g) programs, the report said. The enforcement provisions in the bill will likely result in increased detentions and further high costs to local jails, due to the following reasons:

  • The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) typically does not reimburse local jails or the state for costs associated with detaining at immigrants at ICE’s request.
  • The bill could lead to an increase in the number of immigrants detained, as provisions of the bill would give any law enforcement officer the ability to check the immigration status of someone who is lawfully stopped.
  • The bill presumes that immigrants are a flight risk, making it more difficult for them to obtain bail and likely lengthening their pretrial stay in local jails. It is likely that more individuals with ICE holds will result in greater time in jail and therefore greater costs for local governments.

“It has been demonstrated that immigration enforcement measures such as officers checking the immigration status of everyone they stop ultimately decrease public safety as immigrants lose trust in law enforcement,” said Kate Woomer-Deters, managing attorney with the Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project and co-author of the report. “Local government will likely incur other costs from the mandatory car seizure provision, which will affect hundreds of thousands of citizens and immigrants alike and will clog our court system. The NC Justice Center, alongside 15 other organizations across the state, opposes HB786.”

Read the full report at this link.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota,, 919.861.1468; Tazra Mitchell,, 919.861.1451; Kate Woomer-Deters,, 919.861.2072.