Immigration committee holds public meeting in Raleigh Wednesday afternoon

Rep. Frank Iler is about to find himself in the middle of a contentious meeting.

The Republican Oak Island lawmaker chairs the House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy, which plans a public hearing today on the controversial issue of immigration reform. The committee is considering whether North Carolina should enact any new laws related to illegal immigration.

The two-hour hearing begins at 1 p.m. By mid-morning Wednesday, both sides were already gathering around the General Assembly building.

Opponents of new state laws held a press conference outside the General Assembly building, urging lawmakers to avoid strong anti-immigrant laws like those adopted in states such as Alabama and Arizona. They instead believe the federal government should deal with immigration reform.

Kevin Rogers, policy and public affairs director for ActionNC, said he rejects the idea that immigrant are a drain on the state and are “somehow less deserving members of our community than everyone else.”

“We are confused, we are angry, and we are here to put this committee on notice that we are tired of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, outside the room where the public hearing will be held, potential speakers sat in line to sign up to speak. Members of groups that support new laws against illegal immigrants passed out a document titled “Mexican Immigration Laws,” to show that the laws of that country are more strict than those in the United States.

The committee planned to hear about two hours of testimony Wednesday afternoon.