Local News

Program Introduces Aliens to U.S. Justice System

Posted February 14, 2007
Updated February 15, 2007

— This year, estimates are that 1.5 million legal and illegal immigrants will enter the United States. Many will have no or very little knowledge about their legal rights and how the the U.S. justice system works.

A group in Hoke County is working to change that with a series of teaching sessions for immigrants, most of the Hispanic.

A few weeks after workers protested about conditions at the Smithfield Packing Co. slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, 21 undocumented workers were arrested last month.

"Our focus is to educate the workers," Emma Herrera of the Work Center, a non-profit organization, said.

You could call it a crash course in criminology—more than 60 Hispanic workers and their families showed up Wednesday evening to learn from Herrera.

"The community needs to have more information about what is their rights and also the workers’ rights when they're arrested by ICE," Herrera said. ICE is the acronym for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that is in charge of capturing illegal immigrants.

No lawyers are present. There is only advice from Herrera and the Work Center, which plans several more workshops across the state.

The sessions teach the basics of the justice system, such as the right to remain silent if arrested, and advise workers to have a plan in place if the breadwinner is taken into custody.

The sessions are intended for documented workers who might be arrested, though Herrera admits there is no way to stop illegals from coming, too.

The prospect of helping people who are trying to avoid the law raises some suspicions.

State Sen. Phil Berger, R-Guilford County, said, “"I think that anyone dealing with our justice system has a right to information." He says he is supportive as long as the program deals with how the justice system works and not how to “work” the system.

“If what they're doing is teaching people how to avoid or dodge the law, then I think it's a problem, Berger said."

The next step for the Work Center will be tackling taxes for Hispanic workers. The organization said it will hold a special meeting later this week to help them meet the April 15 deadline.

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  • regularguy_nc-at-yahoo.com Feb 15, 2007

    Yeah!!! Conquer Mexico!!! After they get through slaughtering the Middle East, they need to come back over here and start grabbing everything south of the border. I know, they could induct Iraqis into a special branch of the military and use them to conquer the Mexico and once we have control of all the oil, weed, and cocaine --we already have the opium in Afganistan-- we probably should go ahead and finnish off Canada.

  • regularguy_nc-at-yahoo.com Feb 15, 2007

    "Greedy and powerful American companies not content with using economic inequality to devastate working- and middle-class Americans are now using their clout to fight efforts in China to combat economic inequality there. They want to keep wages low there so they can drive wages down here and everywhere else." .."Wal-Mart, Nike, and other major U.S. companies currently generate two-thirds of the products China exports to the rest of the world."

  • dsal68 Feb 15, 2007

    many of you are saying to send them back because they are taking "your jobs". Well guess what, in case you missed the report on the other news channel,"your jobs" are also being sent to mexico and.china.

  • inmyopinion3 Feb 15, 2007

    "Raiding" as people are calling it is not racist. It is merely upholding the laws of the land. I'm an immmigrant (legal and tax paying, but still an immigrant). I have absolutely no problems being asked to prove I am here legally. I also would not have a problem if I was ever involved in a car wreck if the police officer asked me for proof of my legal resident status! So what its a question if you've nothing to hide whats wrong with it! If you have something to hide well sorry but you shouldnt be here in the first place! Simple practices like this should be introduced. A cop should be allowed to check your immigration status if he has lawfully stopped you for something. Illegal immigration is crippling NC and other States and it needs to curtailed and illiminated if at all posible.

  • ridgerunner Feb 15, 2007

    There are too many special programs for illegals already. Halifax Community College even is offering Spanish so you can converse with your illegal employees. Soon you may need the course to order a hamburger at Hardee,s or McDonalds.

  • latanya512 Feb 15, 2007

    I am with you Scott. We should see about making Mexico part of the USA. That would be tax dollars generated. English should definitely be taught in the school system to help the children attending who are hispanic then they can help their families. Everyone of every race has something they can offer to better this world. I live with many Mexicans and Latins, they are mad cool. Learned alot of great recipes.

  • kaecee Feb 15, 2007

    This really sounds like racism. who cares if they can pay cash for a $13,000.00 car? I know I don't. My household is my responsibility and their household is theirs. Sorry people that can speak English get WIC everyday. What is the problem with the people who can't? And as far as American families starving. That is true, however, how many americans are too proud to ask for help? The Hispanic population, as much as you all don't like it, is growing and making a place. They are taking the jobs that some of you all don't want of feel that you are too good for and then you complain because they are here. It's funny how everyone has a problem with something that is not the majority or the traditional.

  • bosoxbaby Feb 15, 2007

    In all seriousness, I think we would just be better off making Mexico part of the US. They would have to pay taxes and abide by the same laws. I think it would save money in the long run because you're not using valuable tax dollars to keep deporting the same people.

  • LuvMyLife Feb 15, 2007

    Racism needs to stop and that's what this is. People sit on high horses thinking American's are better than others but we aren't. People are people. Hispanics come and get a TIN (Tax Idenitification Number) from the IRS and have taxes taken out of their pay. Immigration on the other hand hasn't said they can legally work here. Now whose fault is this?

  • Tbell67 Feb 15, 2007

    I dont believe that illegals should get special treatment when you have AMERICAN families here starving and noone will help them. Most of the gangs around this area are hispanic....what does this say? If people would listen, they would know.