Latino groups fire back at McCrory over immigrant children

Posted August 8, 2014

— Latino advocacy groups rebuked Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday over his recent comments questioning the health of immigrant children the federal government has placed in North Carolina and the suitability of the families taking them in.

Close to 1,200 children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border during the first six months of this year have been placed with sponsors – many times relatives – in North Carolina, and more are expected as the flood of children across the border continues.

McCrory on Tuesday criticized the federal government, saying state officials are "in the dark" about the identities of the children and their sponsors. He said he doubted anyone had conducted thorough background checks on the sponsors and said they might lack immunizations and pose a public health risk.

"At a minimum, we want to know who they are, where they're going and who their sponsors are," McCrory said.

Angeline Echeverria, executive director of El Pueblo, a nonprofit advocacy group for Latinos in the Triangle, said the governor never bothered to contact El Pueblo or any other organization working with the refugee children. All of the groups have the information he said his administration lacks.

"He seems to be spending a lot of energy raising fears, raising concerns about the unaccompanied minors, about the children who are fleeing violence," Echeverria said at a news conference. "We are very concerned about his setting a tone that is unwelcoming, a tone that is generating fear and mistrust."

Advocates said the suggestion that the children pose a health risk to others is unfounded because they have all been screened by doctors. Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said previous generations of American immigrants faced similar accusations.

"American history is one of welcoming, but it also has an ugly side," Barber said, pointedly sending a message to McCrory: "Why are you picking on suffering immigrant children?"

There was no immediate response from McCrory's office.

Wake County resident Sabrina Cordova is sponsoring a Honduran teen and said her entire family, including her husband, the teen's former stepfather, went through criminal background checks and home inspections.

"In order to get him, we had to go through fingerprinting and everything," Cordova said. "They went through the house and checked for cleanliness, checked to make sure he was going to have somewhere to sleep, for food, checked to see how our family life was in general."

The teen received immunizations and a health screening before moving in, she said, and the family is receiving no government assistance to care for him.

Immigrant children by state

Chapel Hill Town Councilwoman Maria Palmer said numerous children show up for school across North Carolina each fall without necessary vaccinations, but school administrators are able to address such situations without the governor questioning their fitness to associate with other children.

McCrory should be more concerned with the thousands of children statewide living in poverty or whose families lack health insurance, Palmer said.

"These (immigrant) children ... are not the real threat to North Carolina," she said. "Your mean-spirited policies of denying basic assistance to working families and the middle class, that is the real threat to North Carolina."

Barber said McCrory is using the issue of immigrant children to distract the public from other issues confronting the state, from poverty to the closure of rural hospitals. The governor's criticism of the federal government also helps Republican candidates in the upcoming elections, Barber said.

"It's an old trick," he said. "What's wrong with the governor that (you) would make this your top issue with all of the other problems?"

During the news conference, Barber pulled a handful of Latino children up to the podium with signs reading "What If They Were Your Children?" and "Every Child Deserves a Chance at a Future." Although he told one girl that she didn't look like she posed a threat, none of the children was a recent immigrant who had been placed in North Carolina.

Cordova said that, like McCrory, she supports monitoring of the children.

"I don't have a problem with it. I think that's necessary. I think they need to keep up with them," she said.

Unlike the governor, however, she said she hopes the teen staying with her family can win political asylum so he doesn't return to gang violence in Honduras.

"He doesn't have anywhere to go," she said.


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  • archmaker Aug 13, 2014

    There is no US Criminal Code Section 8. It is simply the U.S. Code Section 8
    Chapter 12:

    Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to enter) the United States at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil penalty of—
    (1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or attempted entry); or
    (2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under this subsection.

    Civil Penalty not Criminal conduct under U.S. Law

  • Lorna Schuler Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    While that may be true, it was well over 200+ years ago that you Europeans came to the land of my ancestors. At that time there were no immigration laws in place anywhere on this soil. Pretty much the same all over the world since the beginning of early mankind.

    However as times change, things evolve, populations grow and distance between nations becomes faster and easier to span as a result of improvements in transportation, laws evolve in ALL countries to protect one's borders and inhabitants.

    Those that declare there should be no border in the world basically feel that they should be able to come and go as they please, wherever they please and do what they want....just don't let anybody disagree or intrude upon their way.

  • ncouterbanks69 Aug 13, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Only a sucker (or a fellow criminal) would buy into garbage like that.

  • archmaker Aug 13, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Again - Civil penalties is not criminal conduct under U.S. law.

  • Jeff Johnson Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Racist much?
    It isn't just 'white people' who have a problem with criminals invading the US.
    This isn't about race, it's about obeying the laws of the US and the risk to all of our safety with an uncontrolled influx of unknowns.

  • jahjrii Aug 12, 2014

    Patty is one & done! We will give him a plate of cookies along with his walking papers & see how he likes his own backwards policies for the unemployed. Patty has set the progress & reputation of NC back to a new low.

  • veryfrustrated1 Aug 12, 2014

    Immigration solved for everyone, unless you have an ulterior motive.
    1. Close the border.
    2. Allow every illegal/non-documented alien in this country 1 year to register with the federal government & if they are not found to be a criminal in any way other than immigration status grant them a 1 year residency visa that is automatically renewable for 25 years if they pay taxes and check in with the government each year.
    3. If they stay for 25 years and pay taxes and stay out of trouble, grant them citizenship.

  • Danny22 Aug 12, 2014

    These groups advocate breaking law. Their opinions are not of value. The people who come should do so legally.

  • pinehorse Aug 12, 2014

    You want immigration to stop? Too funny. That's what the two Native American chiefs were arguing in 1721 when the Spanish first showed up on a sailing ship. "They won't be here long, bet they'll be gone in just a few days."

  • archmaker Aug 12, 2014

    View quoted thread

    you pretty much described how we acquired quite a bit of our country.