Immigration debate fuels Chapel Hill rally
Posted July 21, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Martha Beach wanted to see the country’s immigration debate for herself.
So the Chapel Hill resident traveled to Florida last year and found families she said were struggling for a better life.
"They were contributing, good parents,” she said. “I was so impressed by the people and their strength and their need to find a better life for their children."
Beach’s experience led her to organize a rally in front of the U.S. Post Office on Franklin Street Monday, where dozens gathered in support of keeping illegal children and their families in the country.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 women with children from Central America have crossed into south Texas this year, according to news reports. Most of them are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The children have remained in the country under a 2008 law allowing minors from countries that do not share a border with the United States an opportunity to argue for asylum before being deported.
But lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are working to change the law:
- Two Republican measures would treat these children the same as those from Canada and Mexico, thus expediting the deportation process.
- A bipartisan bill would expedite immigration hearings for children who have asylum claims or who are victims of human trafficking.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the crisis. His request was met with resistance from Republican lawmakers.
On Saturday, hundreds gathered outside the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh to protest the border surge and what they say is a failure to secure the border.
The Chapel Hill rally comes as Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to stem the number of illegal immigrants entering the country.
Beach knows addressing illegal immigration will not be an easy fix.
"It is a challenge, but we need to meet it in a way that is so much more compassionate than so many of the messages are," she said.