McCrory defends signing immigration bill, addresses Spellings hire

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory defended his decision to sign H.B. 318 on Thursday, just as more protesters were about to gather in downtown Raleigh about the bill.

McCrory signed the bill, which bans “sanctuary cities,” at a ceremony Thursday in Greensboro.

“The concept of sanctuary cities completely conflicts with the rule of law, not only the rule of law of North Carolina but the rule of law of the United States Constitution,” McCrory said in a lengthy interview with WNCN political reporter Beau Minnick. “It’s my job and it’s every law enforcement officer’s job to uphold not only the laws of North Carolina, but the laws of the United States of America.

Rally opposes ban on sanctuary cities. (WNCN)
PHOTOS: Rally opposes ban on sanctuary cities.

“We cannot have separate cities declare themselves sanctuaries from laws that impact not only North Carolina, but the United States of America. If we have that, we have chaos.”

In signing the bill, McCrory noted that the United States is a “nation of immigrants” and said legal immigrants are “a blessing to the state.”

But McCrory was less favorable of immigrants here illegally.

“We’re talking about illegal immigrants and my goal is to prevent crime, not to react to crime after it occurs,” McCrory said. “I understand the argument where maybe some people may not speak after a crime has occurred, but my goal is to have police officers prevent crime.”

Many demonstrations in Raleigh have been vociferous in their opposition to HB 318, including chanting when McCrory held an adoption event last weekend at the Executive Mansion.

“I’ve heard them and thank God our country allows freedom of speech, even from some people who may be here illegally,” McCrory said. “The great thing about our country is it allows freedom of speech.”

On other issues:

The upcoming $2 billion bond

“I’m very pleased that we’ve got the bonds coming up in March, although I’m disappointed that it didn’t include roads.  But to have new money for our community colleges, our universities, our state parks, I think is a tremendous amount of progress.”

McCrory has often talked about how the higher education system in North Carolina must be preparing students for the workforce. Asked about the hiring of Margaret Spellings as president of the UNC system, McCrory said,  “I think she’s got to look at what students are going to need to learn during the next 20 to 30 years to compete with not only the rest of the United States, but the rest of the world.”

Margaret Spellings named UNC system president. (WNCN)
PHOTOS: Margaret Spellings named UNC president

He also said he was not pleased with legislation that mandated three finalists for the job.

“I did not like the last-minute legislation, which tried to pigeonhole the process of how the next president should be selected,” he said.  “It was a transparency bill that was sadly passed in the dead of night.”

McCrory also addressed his upcoming re-election.

“Just this week, there were several hundred thousands of dollars of ads against me, very negative.  I’m going to have to get used to some of these negative ads.  Heck, I see some of these negative ads and I’d decide to vote against me,” he said.

But he downplayed the run for re-election overall.

“I’m focusing on being governor. I’ve got another year in office.  After filing, I’ll focus on the campaign part of it,” he said.

“What appeals to me about being governor is setting a vision for the future and being a problem solver and preparing this state for the next generation, not just the next election, but the next generation.  That’s why I enjoyed being a mayor and that’s why I enjoy being a governor.”

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