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Latino Culture Ill-Suited to Fluid Family Situations Accepted in U.S.

Posted May 2, 2007

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— The Amber Alert issued Wednesday morning for 8-year-old Jose Fitzpatrick and canceled after his father appeared with him at a Social Services office in Chatham County is the latest in a number of Amber Alerts with similar circumstances.

Jose Fitzpatrick, Junni Rios, Edwin Gonzalez — all were abducted by their fathers in situations laced with violence, and all are of Latino heritage.

There is a cultural question that's supported by the numbers. Latinos make up 7 percent of North Carolina's population, but they're involved in 30 percent of the 27 Amber Alerts issued in the state since the program began in 1992.

Latino advocates says it's a cultural difference.

“We have the cultural thing that family unity stays in tact,” Tony Asion of El Pueblo said Wednesday. Change often comes when families get to the U.S.

In general, Asion said, women become "Americanized" much faster than men do.

“For a lot of women, they see the divorce rate is higher. Leaving is an option here, where back home it's not an option, and a lot of men have a hard time dealing with that.”

That disconnect in perceptions may have come into play when 2-year-old Edwin Gonzalez was snatched from his Siler City home last fall. The boy's parents had recently separated. His mother had taken out a domestic protective order against her husband.

“I think one of the main issues we're dealing with with Latino families is (that) it's not necessarily understood how things work here — what the recourses and resources are — and not having anyone to turn to until the case gets to a kidnapping,” said Ilana Dubester, interim executive director of The Hispanic Liaison.

Each year, 5,000 people visit Chatham County's Hispanic Liaison center. They learn about the law, their rights, even custody issues.

“There is a learning curve there that hasn't caught up yet,” Asion said of the Hispanic community.

While there are about 60 resource centers around the state, advocates say it's clear more are needed.

They also say another reason we may be seeing more Hispanic-related Amber Alerts is simply because the population is growing. The most recent census report estimates there are 600,000 Hispanics in North Carolina, more than double the number five years earlier.


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  • readme May 3, 2007

    I don't want my tax dollars going toward anything having to do with social services for illegal aliens, except emergency care. That includes hispanic "resource centers", other services, schooling for their children, etc. I want my tax dollars spent toward sending them home. And you know what else? I am tired of being labeled as someone filled with hate or a racist. Everyone whose sticking up for these aliens needs to do the math. 600,000, twice what it was 5 years ago!!!! Extrapolate that out 50 years. You guys had better wake up, get over your political correctness, and do something about this before there is a Mexican on every square yard of land here.

  • poke-a-dotcom May 3, 2007

    Oh and by the way...who is paying for these "60 Latino Resource Centers"...you know...the ones where these criminals learn all about their rights...I thought that happened only after you were arrested...no one gives me classes on my rights!

  • At Work May 3, 2007

    This article is true hispanics do have a very different out look on family values than we do. Alot of the male population still beleaves that the woman stays home and cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids. They also take there kids out with them and do not leave them with there friends while they party.

  • grumpyhermit May 3, 2007

    I think everybody just needs to get over it and get on with the real issue, helping people who come to this country assimilate. By the way, we're all immigrants, and based on the way the Native Americans were treated, not very nice immigrants at that.

  • farther_to_the_right May 3, 2007

    So, first the N&O has an article about how drunk driving is "part of Mexican culture" and now WRAL is telling us that kidnapping is just "part of the Mexican culture" as well. Thanks for clearing that up, media. I feel much better now.

  • narcolepsy123456 May 3, 2007

    So when will the country wake up and smell the truth that illegal immigration is going to cause the down fall of this country? Wish more would come up here so our crime rates would go sky high and my tax dollars go towards hunting morons such as the one's involved in yesterday's amber alert.

  • Brain-Dead Religious Freak May 3, 2007

    God Bless the poor WRAL staffer whose job it is to read all these hate-filled, racist messages, day in and day out. You have my sympathy, sir or madam. Please don't let your mind and soul be contaminated by the filth and evil that some people spew. Have a blessed WRAL day!

  • oldrebel May 3, 2007

    The forum is operated by WRAL and as their "property" they can do anything they wish to postings. If you don't like it, start your own little forum and put your own little dictator hat on and allow everything. My bet is pretty soon, you'll be deleting posts also.

  • carrese May 3, 2007

    Big Brother is watching. First Amendment?

  • carrese May 3, 2007

    There is also a cultural difference between how Latino`s view drinking and driving and how Americans view it. So, let`s let all the Latino`s drink and drive because we would not want to be viewed as a culturally insensitive society. There`s something called cultural assimilation--it`s what my grandparents did when they immigrated from Italy in the 1920`s. Our society is so liberal today that we don`t want to step on anyone`s toes or hurt anyone`s feelings. Anything`s okay these days.