I hadn't noted the recent op-ed in the Charlotte Observer about immigration by the president of the NC Farm Bureau.
North Carolina has enacted no laws such as those in Arizona and Alabama, but the rhetoric surrounding those laws has impacted our farming and business communities. Such laws place pressure on N.C. legislators to take similar action. Right now, the Supreme Court is reviewing the Arizona immigration law. Even if the court decides that states can enact such laws, the fact remains that the laws negatively impact state and regional economies. Only a federal fix can solve the problem.
We need look no farther than Georgia and South Carolina to see the effects of such laws. In both states, farmers have cut back on production for fear they will not have enough workers to harvest their crops. The effects of these laws are already spilling over into North Carolina.
The state legislature decided--quite prudently given the legal costs involved--not long ago to wait on the upcoming Supreme Court ruling before doing anything. If the court upholds key parts of the Arizona law, then of course there will be pressure to do the same in North Carolina--odds are very good the Republican-dominated legislature will do so. Just because you can, though, does not necessarily mean you should.
At this point, the political backlash is not so much from the Latino electorate, because Latinos constitute only just over 1% of registered voters. Instead, growing concern is coming from farmers and religious leaders. Farms and religion both matter in North Carolina, so a coordinated political strategy targeting individual elected officials is the main way to block such a bill.