Latinx Campaigners Lobby General Assembly After Anti-Immigrant Bills Pass North Carolina House and Senate
In North Carolina, the undocumented can no longer apply for a driving license since 2005.
Since then, thousands of residents of the state have driven in fear to get to work, school and grocery shopping, Griselda Alonso said from a podium inside the legislative building yesterday. A ride for an undocumented immigrant, Alonso said, could easily result in his deportation, and two state bills are designed to make that chance more likely.
“A driver’s license shouldn’t be a privilege. It is a necessity that we need to accomplish our daily life, ”said Alonso. “During the COVID pandemic, my community has never stopped working since we do not have access to the financial assistance that the government has given and continues to give. “
Alonso, a member of MOON (Mujerxs Organizando Oportunidades Notables / Women Organizing Notable Opportunities), was one of more than 50 residents and community organizers to lobby against Senate Bill 101 and Bill 62 – two laws that strengthen ties between local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].
The Senate bill, titled Requiring Cooperation with ICE 2.0 Law, states that local law enforcement agencies will verify the residency status of any detained person and contact the ICE if insufficient documentation is provided. The House Bill, Gov. Immigration Compliance / Enjoin Ordinances Act, states that local governments cannot restrict federal immigration law to create “sanctuary policies, orders or procedures” for undocumented immigrants. For many, that includes the ability to work, live and even drive across the state, said Stefanie Arteaga, regional immigrant rights strategist for NC ACLU.
Each bill was passed in their respective original chambers and is still being debated by lawmakers.
“SB 101, HB 62, only erodes the relationship of immigrant communities with local law enforcement and our government,” Arteaga said. “So we reiterate that what better way to continue to fight these measures by empowering young people, by empowering people across the state who have been driving for hours, to make sure their stories are heard.”
Two state lawmakers, Representative Ricky Hurtado, a Democrat from Alamance County, and Senator Mujtaba A. Mohammed, a Democrat from Mecklenburg, also spoke at the press conference in solidarity with lobbyists. Their fellow legislators must do more to support undocumented migrants. residents of North Carolina, they said.
Throughout the press conference, speakers such as Manuel Mejia, an organizer for Democracy North Carolina, criticized the way these bills were crafted using partisan and anti-immigrant rhetoric and the manner in which state officials have attempted to justify the existence of SB 101 through high crime misinformation. rate committed by undocumented migrants.
“SB 101 is a continuation of the anti-immigrant rhetoric we’ve been hearing for a few years,” Mejia said. “Here’s what I want to mention to the sponsors and everyone who has voted in favor of SB 101 so far: Statistics show that crimes committed by immigrants, whether documented or not, are lower than or similar to those committed by immigrants. individuals born in the country, not higher. “
Iliana Santillán, executive director of El Pueblo NC, said these bills reflect the number of senators who have not actually interacted with undocumented immigrant communities across the state.
“I think sometimes when we talk to lawmakers they see us as the ugly immigrant rhetoric they hear, right? Santillán told the INDY. “But once they start to see faces, and they see young people, that they see children, that they see mothers coming here, I hope that it stays in their brain that to propose legislation. which is harmful, they think of the faces they saw today. “
Earlier this year, Representative Hurtado sponsored a bill calling on DMV agencies to start giving undocumented migrants limited driver’s licenses; Senator Mohammed also sponsored a bill earlier this year calling on the state to start giving tuition fees to DACA students.
But both say their bills weren’t a priority.
“Unfortunately, Senate Bill 672 did not even get a chance to be heard or debated at a committee meeting,” Mohammed said. “But have no doubts, my colleagues and I will continue to push forward legislation like this in the future and now, not for political points as we have seen with much fear in the General Assembly. from North Carolina, but because it’s the right thing to do. “
Other speakers described how difficult it is for undocumented migrants to access higher education. They have to pay tuition fees out of state and cannot apply for most financial aid, making it impossible for many students from undocumented families to go to college. The non-resident UNC-Chapel Hill tuition fee for this academic year, for example, is $ 34,882; Likewise, the tuition fees for non-residents of NC State University and East Carolina University are $ 27,320 and $ 20,729, respectively. All three are more than double the amount of tuition fees in the state, and all three only consider tuition fees.
“I attended elementary, middle and high school in North Carolina,” said Brandy Fuentes, a member of Student Action with Farmworkers and one of the speakers at the press conference. “I do everything I’m supposed to do and more because my options are limited, and yet in this state – and this country – I am considered an outsider. “
Lindsay Espinosa, a participant in the lobby, said she came with the Immigrants Rights Alliance to support her peers against these bills.
“Racism is a very bad problem and unfortunately it plays a huge role in our society so I think it’s super frustrating,” Espinosa told the INDI. “And I think we should let the immigrants stay because they’re basically us, like the same thing.”
But the speakers were able to end the lobby on a positive note, many gathered at the end of the press conference to discuss and take photos. Many said they were happy to be there to support their communities.
“It energizes me to see so many people ready to speak out against the things that impact Latin American and immigrant communities across North Carolina,” Representative Hurtado told the INDY. “I think there is a need to make sure people know that some of the laws presented to the General Assembly, like SB 101, are not just bad immigrant families, they are bad for the North. Carolinians in general. “
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