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Meadows supports some form of legal status for illegal immigrants

N.C. Congressman Mark Meadows is joining U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's call for Republicans to shift their immigration talk.

In a letter to the senator, Meadows and colleagues endorse a three-legged stool platform that includes securing the county's borders, expanding legal immigration with a focus on high-skilled workers and a legal status that may fall short of full citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States. Meadows represents the 11th District in western North Carolina.

The letter endorsed Paul's statement that the GOP must embrace legal immigration and conservative Republicans need to "become part of the solution" to the issue. "We believe such an approach would put the broader health of our economy -- not entrenched special interests -- at the forefront of this debate," the letter reads.


Morning Memo: Charlotte issues, legislation thwart McCrory announcement

CHARLOTTE ISSUES STEAL McCRORY'S THUNDER: Gov. Pat McCrory triumphantly returned to his home city Monday for an economic development announcement -- but you wouldn't know it from the front page of The Charlotte Observer this morning. Two controversial local issues -- control of the airport and Carolina Panthers stadium upgrades -- stole the show and the front page. McCrory punted on the airport issues but said the effort to transfer control from the city to an independent authority needed more thought. And on stadium upgrades, McCrory said no to the use of state money. (More on those stories below.) Expect more of the same today, when McCrory holds a press conference with the Metro Mayors Coalition but will likely face myriad questions about voter ID and other legislation.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will convene at 2 p.m. but no votes are expected; the Senate opens at 2:30 p.m. to consider a handful of legislation on the calendar. The action is on Gov. Pat McCrory's desk where four bills await his signature -- including a bill to block Medicaid expansion and prohibit a state-based exchange. McCrory's press conference starts at 2:15 p.m.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a tipsheet for North Carolina politics. Send news and tips to ***

Anti-illegal immigration advocate wants to overthrow GOP legislative leaders

A prominent anti-illegal immigration advocate is soliciting support from state lawmakers to remove House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger from power.

"I am getting more traction than I thought I would," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration's political action committee. "Many of the Republican lawmakers are dissappointed to see them imitate their predecessors."

Gheen's problem with the top Republican legislative leaders came after a special House immigration committee delayed any action until the next legislative session.

"Speaker Thom Tillis and President (Pro Tem) Phil Berger are protecting illegal immigrants and those that employ them," Gheen said in a recent interview. "Immigration legislation is one of the issues that led to Democrats' overthrow."

Morning Roundup: Controversial issues give way to education-themed day

A trio of controversial issues dominated the discussion Wednesday -- fracking, immigration and gay marriage -- but education is today's topic.

The N.C. Association of School Administrators will hold its annual conference in Raleigh today. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue will speak at 9 a.m., continuing her push for better education funding. And the Democratic candidates who want to replace her -- Bob Etheridge, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Rep. Bill Faison -- will speak at a 5 p.m. forum, along with those seeking the state superintendent post.

Republican Pat McCrory released his education plan Wednesday, getting a day -- and a story -- all to himself on the topic. He outlined a series of proposals including merit pay for teachers, more accountability, faster expansion of charter schools and more e-learning.

For other headlines, see below.

N.C. Farm Bureau releases TV ad opposing tougher state immigration laws

The N.C. Farm Bureau is asking Republican state lawmakers to drop an effort to draft tougher immigration laws, saying it will hurt the state's agriculture industry.

The Farm Bureau is making its case in a new television advertisement airing Sunday's during the N.C. Spin political commentary program. The TV spot describes what happened in Georgia and Alabama after those states passed stringent laws designed to crackdown on illegal immigration.

"The agriculture economy has always been fragile and we can't absorb a disruption in the labor force through unintended consequences," said Peter Daniel, an assistant to the organization's president. "We support a system where agriculture can acquire the labor they need in legal ways, but congress has failed to act on that."

As lawmakers discuss illegal immigration, group launches billboard campaign

A Raleigh nonprofit launched a statewide billboard campaign Tuesday calling for North Carolina to resist negative stereotypes and welcome its foreign newcomers, an appeal for tolerance that comes as the legislature mulls tougher laws aimed at illegal immigrants.

Flanked by religious leaders of several faiths, Uniting NC unveiled a sample of its new signs on New Bern Avenue in east Raleigh - a placard that carries the slogan "Immigrants Make Us Stronger." Read more here.

N.C. looks to toughen illegal immigration laws

Republicans now in charge of the state legislature are using their clout to push for new laws identifying illegal immigrants and limiting their use of public services.

That effort got its start Wednesday in the House Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy, which drew a crowd representing both sides of the controversial issue. The committee can recommend legislation to be considered next year.

For years, a legislative contingent has focused on more laws limiting illegal immigrants' access to public services - seeking to bar their admission to community colleges, for example - but they have had limited success.

Republicans won control of the legislature last year, giving their efforts new life. The wave of tough laws in other states such as Arizona and Alabama has given them another reason to act.

With other states tightening their laws, North Carolina could become a magnet for illegal immigrants, said Rep. Bert Jones, a Rockingham County Republican. Read more here.

Government contractors would have to use E-Verify system

The House today tentatively approved a bill requiring businesses with government contracts make sure none of their new hires are illegal immigrants. Businesses with 25 or more employees would have to use the E-Verify federal database to determine the status of job applicants.

The bill passed on a 75-43 vote, but will be back on the calendar for a final vote on Wednesday while a section is rewritten to deal with concerns over the attorney general’s role in enforcing civil penalties that would be imposed for violations.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that penalizes businesses that hire illegal immigrants, and requires use of the E-Verify system. Several House Democrats in North Carolina argued that the bill would add to the cost of running the courts, and would impose a hardship on businesses that contract with the government.

The state already uses the database for potential state employees, including public universities and school systems.

Democrat calls for Arizona-style immigration law

The North Carolina Democratic Party is paying for a mailer in a state Senate race that calls for “bringing the Arizona immigration crackdown to North Carolina.”

The mailer was sent on behalf of Senate candidate David Redwine of Shallotte who is in a hot campaign with Republican Bill Rabon of Southport for the seat held by retiring Sen. R.C. Soles.

Andrew Whalen, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said the mailing reflected the views of Redwine, not the party, reports Rob Christensen.

“I think the mail piece specifically is a plank in David Redwine's platform on which he is running for the Senate,” Whalen said. “There are many viewpoints and many different candidates in the Democratic Party.”

“The Democratic Party does not have a litmus test for any of its candidates,” Whalen added.

The mailer features a photograph of Redwine, a former state House leader, outside a prison talking with a prison guard. The headline reads: “David Redwine wants to throw the book at CEOs who just won't quit hiring illegal immigrants.”

In the mailer, Redwine calls for new fines on corporations that knowingly hire illegal immigrants and jail time for CEOs who are repeat offenders.

Women announce end to Raleigh hunger strike

The downtown Raleigh hunger strike by three young women who are illegally in the country has come to an end.

The strike, which started June 14, was supposed to go on until they convinced U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to back the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow illegal immigrants like them who were brought to this country as children a chance to be permanent residents.

But the protesters cited safety reasons this evening for ending the strike, which had drawn national media attention.

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