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Greensboro groups fighting ban on alternative IDs for immigrants

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A program meant to help immigrants access public services in Greensboro could hit some big roadblocks if legislation being considered by law makers is successful.

On Monday, leaders of faith and social service organizations in the Piedmont Triad spoke out against House Bill 318.

The measure is called the Protect NC Workers Act. It aims to tighten rules for food stamp eligibility and also could force governments to only accept driver's licenses as proper identification.

That would put a big dent in the work Faith Action International House has done during the last three years to provide an alternative identification to immigrants and others. The organization's work has been praised by police, city leaders and others.

The Faith Action IDs are used to help people set up water utility accounts, obtain library cards and avoid being arrested for not being able to offer police identification.

“I think it provides a sense of security not just for the immigrant community but for the broader community as a whole,” said Adamou Mohamed, Chair of Greensboro’s Human Relations Committee.

Some of the close to 3,000 card holders said it gives them a feeling of inclusion in the community and fewer reasons to be afraid to leave the house.

“People feel like they can report a crime, they can drive to their children's activities and also, if they are a victim of crime, they feel secure knowing it won’t get them put in jail,” said Mohamed.

The program is also being used in Burlington and has the backing of the city’s police department as well.

Monday’s press conference comes with just a few days left in the North Carolina legislative session. Many people thought the measure was a dead issue, but it has found new life. The bill passed in the Senate Monday night and could be voted on by the House on Tuesday.

“North Carolinians believe in fairness,” said Rev. Julie Peeples with the Congregational United Church of Christ. “House Bill 318 is not fair --  it will be detrimental to the health, the safety [and] the wellbeing of many people.”