Gaston County: We will no longer fund illegal immigrants

Gaston County has taken steps to combat the wave of illegal immigrants in this state that the county next to it – Mecklenburg (where I live) – refuses to. On Thursday, the county commissioners there voted to stop all funding for illegal immigrants in their county:

Gaston County commissioners have directed county officials to stop funding programs for undocumented immigrants in what marks the Charlotte region’s most aggressive measure against illegal immigration.

The resolution, passed Thursday by the all-Republican board, blames people living here illegally for a variety of social ills, and also orders county officials to limit their ability to live and work in the county.

Some officials charged with enacting the resolution say it would have little effect, but commissioner John Torbett, who introduced the measure, said it was necessary to protect taxpayers.

“Is it right for people that are not citizens of this country to receive tax dollars through services that have been paid for by people that are citizens of this country?” he said. “If we can determine that taxpayer dollars in Gaston County are going to provide services for illegal residents, then we need to stop as much of that as humanly possible.”

Critics say the resolution only encourages hysteria over the immigration issue.

The resolution also directs county departments not to contract with companies that hire illegal immigrants, and it calls for a limit on the number of people who can live in rental homes.

Gaston County has joined a small group of local governments, such as those in Hazelton, Pa., and Valley Park, Mo., that have passed measures aimed at discouraging illegal immigrants from staying in their communities. Last year Mecklenburg commissioners defeated a proposal to deny some county services to illegal immigrants, and another measure that would have denied county contracts to employers found to have hired undocumented workers.


How the county will implement this resolution is not clear. Torbett said he plans to meet with department directors to identify areas where they are exceeding federally and state-mandated guidelines.

The resolution directs police officers to check immigration status, but providing patrol officers the equipment and access to check that status would have to be approved by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sheriff Alan Cloninger said.

The resolution’s lone dissenting vote came from commissioner Pearl Burris Floyd, who says she agreed with most of it but wanted to amend or delete two items. The commissioners rushed to vote on the resolution, Floyd said.

She said updating the minimum housing requirements to address how many people can live in a rental home could hurt legal residents with large or multigenerational families. Floyd also fears requiring police to check immigration status could lead to racial profiling, she said.

“I can just envision our Latino Americans or Hispanic Americans who are legal residents having to go through being questioned about their citizenship,” she said. “To me, that’s wrong.”

Resolution Provisions

The resolution, which passed 5-1, directs county officials to:

• Stop funding the portion of local services that go to illegal immigrants.

• Stop nonmandated or federally and state-funded programs that serve illegal immigrants.

• Stop contracting with companies that employ illegal immigrants.

• Update minimum housing requirements to limit the number of people who can live in rental homes.

The resolution directs the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office and Police Department to:

• Check the immigration status of undocumented immigrants upon arrest.

• Check immigration status during any infraction, such as a traffic stop.

Good for them. I’m sure this will be challenged, of course, but with this measure, Gaston County has taken a stand against illegal immigration. The message? If you’re an illegal immigrant, don’t expect us to make it easy for you to get free ride in our county.

More power to ’em!

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