state politics

A Coup in Carolina

In case there was any remaining doubt, the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly have now made perfectly clear their gleeful contempt for democracy. The measures pushed through in this latest special session are a naked power grab with the specific and unmistakable intent of nullifying last month’s election.

To be sure, the bills that were passed contain a few provisions that are not inherently anti-democratic. Eliminating partisan control in the state and county Boards of Elections would be a laudable reform. Unfortunately, the change that was adopted merely erects a veneer of “bi-partisanship” without establishing truly independent, non-partisan oversight of our elections. Likewise, while stripping the incoming Governor’s authority over appointments reeks of partisan manipulation, that doesn’t mean that the existing allocation of appointment authority is sacrosanct.

Regardless of the merits, these are not matters that should have been resolved in a hasty special session. These are significant changes to the structure of state government, with potentially far-ranging implications. And there was no pressing emergency, save for the inconvenient fact that the people of North Carolina have elected Democrat Roy Cooper to replace Republican Pat McCrory in the Governor’s mansion.

The fact is that the Republicans, having gerrymandered the General Assembly to give them veto-proof control, can and will pass whatever bills they want. Some of the more egregious over-reaches may eventually be invalidated in court (at no small expense, financial and reputational, to this state). That they opted to move these bills in a cloak and dagger fashion, rather than waiting until the regular term, only shows that they feel some residual pang of shame.

This may be the last best hope for the people of North Carolina–Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike–who want a state government that actually represents us and addresses our needs. We need to raise our voices, on the phone and in the street, and let the General Assembly know that we will not stand for legislation by ambush.

(This is an updated version of a post by NC Piedmont DSA’s political education director, Eric Fink, for Yes! Weekly.)

Resist Anti-Immigrant Bigotry in North Carolina

Donald Trump won the presidency by stoking and exploiting racist and xenophobic fears, and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is promising to help Trump spread that fear in the Triangle.

Harrison told ABC11 that his department will willingly share information on Triangle residents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Though Harrison, like Trump, is claiming that he will focus on supposed criminals, he made clear that he will use ICE to target residents when he wants to remove them from the area, but doesn’t have evidence that they committed any crimes.

“Hey, we don’t have enough to charge him, but you [ICE] might want to look into him, he’s undocumented, or she’s undocumented, and let’s just get him out of our neighborhood,” he told ABC11.

By circumventing due process, Harrison is playing to stereotypes of immigrants—and our Latinx neighbors more generally—as criminals, treating them as inferior citizens who are not worthy of constitutional protections. Harrison’s comments make clear that immigrants’ rights are secondary to the comfort of others—others who we know to be wealthy, white citizens.

This kind of oppression is not new in North Carolina. The same sentiment lies behind House Bill 318, which Governor Pat McCrory signed last year. At a press conference, McCrory and Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes both justified the bill as a way to preserve law and order. In reality, it’s just a way to ensure undocumented immigrants—and anyone assumed to be an undocumented immigrant—have onerous bureaucratic hoops to jump through to prove their right to take part in our local communities.

We must fight back against Trump, Harrison, Barnes, and McCrory’s bigotry. We must ensure that our friends, family, and neighbors who are immigrants are safe in North Carolina, regardless of their immigration status.

To help resist anti-immigrant policies in the Triangle, we urge you to:

  1. Attend the public ICE 287(g) program steering committee meeting that will take place at 1 p.m. on December 12 at the Wake County Detention Center. The 287(g) program allows ICE to deport undocumented immigrants, and the meeting allows public comment so you can speak against the way it is used to oppress Triangle residents.

  2. Support efforts to create sanctuaries for immigrants the Triangle. Though Governor McCrory signed a bill last year outlawing sanctuary cities, movements have started at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and elsewhere to create protections for undocumented immigrants at those institutions. Join the protests, petitions, and other actions in your area.

  3. Volunteer with refugee and immigrant groups in the Triangle, including El Centro HispanoEl PuebloChurch World Service.

  4. Donate to organizations who are on the frontlines of these battles, including the ACLUNational Immigration Law Center, and American Immigration Council.