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Immigration bill debate delayed in NC House

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Some provisions in an immigration bill poised for debate in the North Carolina House may now only be studied rather than carried out if it's approved.

The House delayed Monday evening debate on the "Reclaim NC" Act and rescheduled it for Tuesday.

The measure would give driving privileges to some immigrants living in the country illegally while increasing punishments for people who possess or sell fraudulent identification cards.

"There are tens of thousands of people driving in our state illegally who haven't been tested to drive, haven't demonstrated a knowledge of the rules of the road and are driving without insurance," bill sponsor Rep. Harry Warren, of Salisbury, said. "For the protection of our drivers, we should have this."

Warren says he now plans to amend the bill to simply studying the driver's license expansion. Warren says the Department of Transportation is concerned because the license requirement would take effect in October.

The legislation also would give police authority to detain anyone suspected of lacking documentation for up to 24 hours to verify legal status.

Bill sponsors say the "Reclaim NC" act is about driver safety, not immigration. However, many in the Latino community are concerned about some of the bill's provisions.

"There are a lot of concerns in the community that they will not be able to prove how long they have lived in North Carolina, that they may not be able to pay the insurance up front that's required to get these permits," said Angeline Echeverria, with Latino advocacy group El Pueblo.

Melanie Sanders

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