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Durham meeting focuses on immigration reform

Posted September 15, 2013

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— Comprehensive immigration reform was at the center of a community discussion in Durham Sunday afternoon.

Hundreds of immigrants joined local and state leaders, as well as members of North Carolina's congressional delegation – Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield – at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Durham for dialog on the matter.

The meeting came as immigration legislation remains stalled in the GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives after the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a sweeping bill in June with billions of dollars for border security and a path to citizenship for millions. Lawmakers returned to Washington this week after a five-week summer recess with no clear way forward on the issue.

"It is unreasonable and unthinkable to believe that we're going to deport 11 or 12 million people back to their country of origin," Butterfield said. "It is senseless. It is unworkable."

But it's something Marlon Aguirre, has seen.

Aguirre moved to Durham from Ecuador eight years ago and has since become a U.S. citizen, but he has friends who were deported and separated from family members who are still in the country.

Immigration reform Immigration reform meeting attended by NC congressional reps

"I would like for the U.S. government to have a new law where they can give some options to people who have come here for a better life," he said.

Supporters of immigration reform say stories like that are why events like Sunday's are important.

Price said enforcement of immigration laws alone isn't enough and that immigrants need easier access to healthcare and better chances for college, jobs and citizenship in general.

"If people who have been here a while and have shown that they can live and work among us, then there should be a path to legal status for them," he said.

According to, the nonprofit, North Carolina Latino Coalition, there are more than 800,000 Latinos living in North Carolina – an increase of 25 percent over the past 20 years.

The coalition says immigration is an economic issue and that North Carolina's economy needs immigration reform.

Rep. Renee Ellmers could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon but said last month after a meeting in Dunn that she supports "common-sense" immigration policies and reform that focus on national security and explore pathways to legal status.

"I remain convinced that our first priority is to enforce the law and protect our borders so that we know who is entering our country," she said in an Aug. 22 statement.

"At the same time, we need to address the millions of people who are already in this country and formulate a process for them to earn legal work status," she added. "Immigration reform is essential to building a healthy, growing American economy."

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  • elyhim2 Sep 17, 2013

    BTW not looking white/black does not mean you are a foreigner. That woman driving an Escalade and shopping at Belks may be a CEO and American born.

  • elyhim2 Sep 17, 2013

    We do need immigration reform but that is about the process and not allowing undocumented foreigners to come and go as they please. No country on earth does that.

    Also, Durham Public Schools: I'm tired of you sending forms home with my kids in Spanish because they are brown, they are Asian and none of us understand Spanish.

  • Vote for Pedro Sep 16, 2013

    What he would not say is that they almost universally vote democrat.
    fishon

    If a group of politicians and their constituents said vile, disgusting, and stereotypical things about me, I would vote for the "other folks" too. Oh, that's right, I already do!

  • RAA0013 Sep 16, 2013

    "If people who have been here a while and have shown that they can live and work among us, then there should be a path to legal status for them," he said." Well duh - there is a path. You go through the classes, fill out the paper work and pay the fees to become a US citizen as thousands before you have. What is so hard about that?

  • ThomasL Sep 16, 2013

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY ARE PAID LOWER WAGES! Then how in the he11 is Pedro's wife driving around in a new Cadillac Escalade during the day and buying all the high end cloths at Bells and expensive food at the grocery stores I see them in.Oh that's right no taxes being paid by them,my silley mistake...

  • bngexpress Sep 16, 2013

    'AGAIN THEY BROKE THE LAW" , WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE TRUTH!

  • fishon Sep 16, 2013

    "It is unreasonable and unthinkable to believe that we're going to deport 11 or 12 million people back to their country of origin," Butterfield said. "It is senseless. It is unworkable."

    What he would not say is that they almost universally vote democrat.

  • beachboater Sep 16, 2013

    Our country is the "melting pot". BUT, there is a right way and a wrong way to "melt" into our society.

    The illegals, I guess mostly from Mexico, cross the border illegally for starters. Then they buy false ID and other documents. I personally see a lot of wrecks, some fatal, involving drunk drivers that are illegal. It really grinds my gears when on the phone I hear, "press 1 for English".

    The illegals will fly a foreign flag above the stars and bars, they celebrate the foreign holidays. They try to make us adapt to their way of life. They come here for a better life, but expect us to cater to them.

    Illegals utilize our health care, schools, welfare, and every other thing that citizens get. The schools really are hit hard with non-English speaking students.

    There are already legal way to come to this great country. We don't need immigration reform as much as we need immigration enforcement. Do it the right way.

  • ldestefano63 Sep 16, 2013

    Notice the signs the people are holding up in the pics here - two are not even in english, and the 3rd states we are a nation of immigration - Correct we are but legal immigration and if you want to come here and stay here then learn to read, write and speak the language. If you can't even make a sign in English then really does not make a point.

  • foodstamptrader Sep 16, 2013

    A rally in the "Sanctuary City". Meanwhile low wage, low skilled and entry level legal citizens cannot find work. They must compete with illegal aliens for work and wages are pushed lower. Durham is a messed up place...

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