What to do if you have a tense relationship with the Latino community and your party is trying to rebrand itself as not the party of haters? If you’re the Republican governor of North Carolina, you eliminate the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs, which was created in 1998. Yes, that ought to make things better.
The Latino community is none too pleased with Gov. McCrory closing down the office, especially after Governor McCrory (R-NC) signed off on the “pink licenses” for immigrants.
Closing the Hispanic/Latino State Office is being seen as confirmation that the Latinos in North Carolina don’t matter. Jess George, executive director of Latin American Coalition in Charlotte, said, “The message from Raleigh is that Latinos in North Carolina don’t matter. To close the office of Hispanic affairs only goes to confirm what many people suspect in our state, which is that, despite movement with the Republican Party at the national level towards more bipartisan solutions around comprehensive immigration reform, North Carolina conservatives don’t seem to have gotten the same memo.”
The pink-striped license plan was so egregious that Jewish leaders wrote to the governor to ask him to reconsider. They wrote in part, “We write to you as Jewish leaders dismayed and disappointed that undocumented immigrants in North Carolina who qualify for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be singled out by having to carry driver’s licenses marked with a pink design and distinct from other North Carolina licenses.”
The pink licenses were shut down at the last minute, but the Governor just defended them in a March 6th presser. McCrory tried to explain that they are not scarlet letters by using the ever-helpful those people, “Those people don’t think it ought to have any identification regarding legal status versus legal presence.. and there is a legal distinction between legal status and legal presence.”
The licenses now read in bold red ink: “LEGAL PRESENCE / NO LAWFUL STATUS” and “LIMITED TERM”. The ACLU has promised to keep their eye on the impact of “NO LEGAL STATUS.”
Apparently McCrory, who received a presidential appointment by president George W. Bush to serve on the United States Homeland Security Advisory Council between 2002-2006, thinks this extra expense will keep all of those non-existent voter fraud cases from finally manifesting. We wouldn’t want those people to vote. Not to worry, yesterday North Carolina Republicans filed two bills to restrict early voting and same-day registration in the state.
Thomas Stith, the Governor’s chief of staff, tried to explain in a statement that eliminating the office doesn’t mean they don’t care, “We are committed to serving the needs of all of North Carolina’s citizens. We don’t segment our constituents by race or cultural background any more than we separate them by age or gender. In addition, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs is a valuable resource to help us address culturally sensitive issues.”
Still, they eliminated the Office of Latino affairs, after they tried to target immigrants with scarlet lettered licenses. They just can’t help themselves.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.