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Immigration advocates decry state law, federal program

Posted December 3, 2015

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— People who were arrested last month during a protest against a state law they say unfairly targets the immigrant community on Thursday blasted a federal program that allows local law enforcement to check the immigration status of people who have been arrested.

As part of an Oct. 29 mass demonstration against the law that prohibits any North Carolina county or municipality from restricting local law enforcement's ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials, six people chained themselves together and blocked traffic on Blount Street in front of the Executive Mansion for three hours.

Martha Iliana Santillian-Carril, 32, Angeline Marie Echeverria, 47, Ivanna Christina Gonzalez, 24, Nayely Irais Perez-Huerta, 28, David Salazar-Montalvo, 47, and Maria Carmen Rodriguez, 30, were each charged with impeding traffic and resisting, delaying or obstructing officers.

Each made an initial court appearance Thursday morning, and Gonzalez said no one regrets the act of civil disobedience.

"I think there is a lesson for the community in understanding the issues that are at stake here, which is the dignity and the human rights of immigrants in this country," she said.

House Bill 318, dubbed the Protect North Carolina Workers Act, also requires state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of job applicants and contractors, bars government agencies or law enforcement from using consular or embassy documents to verify someone's identity or residence and limits food assistance for able-bodied, childless adults who are unemployed.

Rodriguez, an undocumented mother of three, brought her young daughter to the courtroom with her, saying she wants to be an example for her children by standing up for her beliefs.

After the brief court appearance, the protesters and other immigration advocates attended a public forum on the federal 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement officers, such as Wake County deputies, access to federal immigration databases so they can assist U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in detaining those in the United States illegally.

"Without a doubt, (it's) the single most effective program we've ever had, and we've taken out a lot of dangerous people," ICE agent Robert Alfieri said.

During the presentation, the protesters tore off their tops to reveal T-shirts with the slogan "Stop the Hate," began chanting "ICE out of North Carolina" and marched out.

"I think its overwhelmingly clear that 287(g) is instilling fear in the immigrant community," said Tim Eakins, an advocate for immigrant rights. "It is terrifying and separating families here in Raleigh."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the federal program isn't perfect, but it's better than nothing.

"I wish the system was better myself," Harrison said. "I wish there was a way the good people could get driver's licenses, the good people could stay here and work. It would make my life 100 percent better because (while) political winds change, I focus on your safety."


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  • Miguel Figueras Dec 9, 2015
    user avatar

    First of all, I find it hilarious reading the comments about doing it the "Right way". I bet some of these folks commenting don't even know what that is. Look it up you Ignorant. Second, they pay taxes and don't get a return (Nice one U.S.) that's why the Feds don't want anything to change. Thirdly, American Indians are the only non immigrant. Your ancestors got here on a boat. Fourthly, They get absolutely no welfare, food stamps, etc. (made up lies from the haters, they pay everything cash). Lastly, since we're all Christians here, I wonder how many people Jesus would have deported and laws against folks would he have proposed? Bunch of Hypocrites. "Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God."

  • Cathy Blackman Dec 4, 2015
    user avatar

    first off, every single one of them should have been asked to present their citizenship status and/or proper paperwork to be here. If they didn't have it, they should've been arrested and deported, period. Illegal is illegal.

  • Theo Bishop Dec 4, 2015
    user avatar

    I agree with (SEAN CREASY) I see this all the time in the stores. I me me feel bad because we were born here and we are just making end meat. They come and get everything right off the back. They need to do it the right way and learn English to be here. It is costing us more money because they are here Illegal. Our school is spending more money to try to teach the ones that can't speak English. I think if they can not do it the right way to be here they need to go back to their country.

  • Sean Creasy Dec 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Once again these folks are mislabeled. They are not immigrants. Immigrants came into this country through the front door and followed the proper procedures to stay. These are ILLEGAL ALIENS!! They swam across the river, jumped the fence, or snuck in under the cover of darkness, which all can basically be summed up by saying they crawled in through the window and feel that since they are now here should be entitled to the same rights as immigrants so they can milk our welfare system to death while working their jobs they got with their bogus id numbers.... THAT is how they can manage to buy $400.00 worth of groceries with their EBT card and load them into that brand new Escalade....

  • Sam Adams Dec 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Stop the lies.... and media enough with your pro illegal alien agenda!

  • John Berry Dec 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Since when did it become "hateful" to enforce our nation's laws as the countries they come from do? Sneaking across the US-Mexico border doesn't bestow the right to stay in the US or to ignore the laws on anyone from anywhere.
    But honestly, illegal aliens really have nothing but crying that Americans are "hateful", "racist", "xenophobic" or "heartless" to justify their lawlessness or their desire to stay here. Their nations and foreign social organizations have already tried telling Americans that we can't run our country without them, that they are somehow a boon to our economy and that prices of agricultural products will skyrocket without them. They even tried telling us that this is actually their country, not ours.
    None of that stuck. So now they are down to calling us "hateful" and demanding their "rights as Americans".
    Here's a slogan we should send back at them: "Stop the BS and go back where you came from!"

  • Ray Rivera Dec 3, 2015
    user avatar

    The secure communities program checks everyone's prints for immigration violations and is free. 287(g) costs the county tax payers over 300,000 per year. They both yield the same results, but again, secure communities is free. If a person arrested is wanted by ICE, has been previously deported, or is in the USA without inspection and gets arrested on a serious charge, they are then detained because ICE faxes a detainer shortly after the prints are checked via secure communities.. 287(g) is costly..

  • Nick Perry Dec 3, 2015
    user avatar

    If you're arrested,your rights are gone. If you want to be an American, deal with it. This protest shows their true ignorance, and whoever participated should be punched in the face...and crotch!

  • Tom Laurence Dec 3, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    +1. Very well stated !!

  • King Mopar Dec 3, 2015
    user avatar

    "IF"...you have not gone thru the legal process of coming here in the US, well, you don't have the right to be here....PERIOD. You, nor your children have the "right" to take out of a fund, developed for US citizens, and paid into via US citizens, simply because you came here underneath the laws of this country. We have US vets, living homeless, who served our country with honor, and we are supposed ditch them, for YOU...I don't think so. Instead of "Stop the Hate", how about go back where you came from? We are not working every day, to support YOU.