Background: In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 318, an anti-sanctuary law that prohibits government officials from accepting consular or community issued IDs and the adoption of sanctuary city ordinances. Anti-immigrant HB 135 seeks to expand this law.
HB 135 would grant any person the right to file lawsuits to force localities to allow its officials to engage in anti-immigrant practices. This provision would open North Carolina up to costly lawsuits against cities, counties, and sheriffs forcing localities to assist ICE in federal immigration enforcement. Private citizens would be able to seek court orders to compel local police and municipalities to assist ICE. The bill allows any person to sue a city or county to seek an injunction of any "policy, ordinance, or procedure that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law." The bill also declares any such policy "null and void."
HB 135 only allows a city or county to recover attorneys fees if the claim is found to have been "filed in bad faith" or frivolous. If the city successfully defends a lawsuit, it will not have a way to recover the expenses of defending the litigation if the claims don't meet the frivolous standard. HB 135 creates a potentially costly financial burden for localities, which are already under-resourced, and further wastes taxpayer money to defend against these lawsuits.