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Immigration reform debate continues in North Carolina

Like a lot of states, North Carolina is considering immigration reform and like a lot of states, there is disagreement about what needs to be done and how to accomplish it.

A committee was recently formed to study immigration law and make recommendations for new legislation to be considered by the North Carolina House of Representatives at its short session next May. The committee recently held a public hearing to receive testimony from two county sheriffs about their partnerships with federal immigration law authorities.

Both spoke in support of the partnership, with one stating that it had allowed his department to arrest and deport some 1,800 illegal immigrants over the past five years. He said the program helped identify undocumented immigrants that have outstanding warrants, previous arrests or those who have previously been deported.

The second sheriff echoed the comments of the first, adding that he believed real immigration reform cannot be accomplished until border security is tightened. He also stated his wish for a law requiring every individual charged with an offense, with the sole exception of speeding violations, to be required to be processed through a federal immigration detention center.

After hearing the sheriffs, committee members cautioned that federal law trumps state law on immigration reform and whatever changes are made at the state level must pass at the federal level.

The immigration reform debate rages on and it will likely continue through the presidential election season. While it remains to be seen how the issues will develop and be dealt with, the fact remains that there are many individuals and families whose fate hangs in the balance. Those facing immigration issues would be best served working with an attorney experienced in immigration law.

Source: WRAL, "Lawmakers weigh immigration changes," Laura Leslie, Dec. 7, 2011

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