Local News

Hispanics Say They Add Spice to U.S. Melting Pot

Posted May 15, 2007

— Hispanic residents in North Carolina said many transplants from Mexico and Central and South America are trying to fit into American culture while adding a bit of their own to the mix.

"We're not aliens. We're people who come here to work, to have opportunities to work and show what we can give to this country," said Rosie Espinal, who arrived in the country 20 years ago as an illegal immigrant but is now a U.S. citizen.

A 2006 study by the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina's business school found that Hispanics, including the estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants, pump $9.2 billion a year into North Carolina's economy. Hispanics annually contribute $756 million in direct and indirect taxes while costing the state about $817 million a year for education, health care and prisons, according to the study.

It all helps make illegal immigration one of the hottest hot-button issues in the state.

In a recent Elon University poll, more than 92 percent of the state residents contacted called illegal immigration an important issue. Half said the influx of illegal immigrants has been bad for North Carolina.

State lawmakers are considering several bills related to immigration, including taxing money that immigrants wire out of the country. Nationwide, an estimated $23 billion is wired to Mexico each year.

Zulayka Santiago, the executive director of El Pueblo, a public policy group that works with the state's Latino community, said immigrants are part of North Carolina's cultural mix.

"Much of the beauty of North Carolina has a lot to do with the many different faces we have," Santiago said.

Census figures show that 40 percent of North Carolina's Hispanics are young men, ages 21 to 39. Many arrived alone to work and still pledge allegiance their native country while trying to adjust to the U.S.

"There is an attempt to acculturate, but most of the acculturation happens in the second generation," Santiago said, noting most immigrants try to learn English to have more success in the country.

Isaac Garcia has lived in North Carolina for eight years. The 33-year-old works in a store that sells "musica," and he said he sends about 30 percent of his earning to his family in Zacatacas, a state in central Mexico.

"We come here to work, to send money to our country. Sometimes, it's hard to go to school," Garcia said. "I miss my family. My dream is my country."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • lizard May 16, 2007

    "We come here to work, to send money to our country. Sometimes, it's hard to go to school," Garcia said. "I miss my family. My dream is my country."

    That's it right there! They don't want to become americans. They just want our money. Second largest income producer for Mexico, second only to oil export. Their illegal employment artificially depress the wages that have to be paid.

  • NCTeacher May 16, 2007

    I have no problem with them coming her legally and becoming tax paying citizens. If I lived in another country I would be trying to get here too. But I don't agree with anyone, from any country coming here illegally. Hispanic or not- do it the right way and you wont get so much resentment.

  • al1793 May 16, 2007

    They add a solid DISRESPECT of the laws of this country as well. Those who are here legally - WELCOME WITH OPEN ARMS.

    Those who are illegal - GET OUT OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES.

  • gcarheel37 May 16, 2007

    say what you will but they are breaking the law.they have caused over crowding in our schools and on our roads and highways.not to say a good bit of them never go to a dmv.and go check out the hosptils the emerg.rooms are over flowing with illegals looking free heatlh care.

  • StopRacismNow May 16, 2007

    Ok, $9 billion + $756 million - $817 million still ends up on the positive side. Wow, I can't believe how many of you didn't take advantage of your FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION. Stop your constant whining about illegal immigrants and find something else to pick at. I still can not believe how many of you have a lopsided view. Live a day in their shoes and maybe , just maybe, you can understand why they come here illegally.

  • 1WakeCitizen May 16, 2007

    Yep - when I was in Mexico - there were 14 translators waiting to help me maneuver around! NOT!!!! If we keep providing free services to anyone NOT learning english - they'll stay. Can't blame them for that - i blame us!
    If anyone wishes to move here LEGALLY, and speaks english - i'll welcome you with open arms! :)

  • patti3 May 16, 2007

    WE should not cater to them. They need to speak only English, adapt to our culture and become Americans legally. If they can't do that, then they can go back home. If they think so much of their Mex. country, then stay there. We should not let illeagls have health care, special schooling, food stamps, or any other help that is afforded to our people. They should fly their flags only under our (USA) flag if at all. If they want to come to America, then come the legal way and don't try to make us into Mexicans.

  • Tiny T May 16, 2007

    It is easy for me to guess that none of you people have ever been to Mexico. If I lived there, I would do the same thing they are doing. It is not "our world". We will come and go. Most of us are here because we had someone in our past trying to survive hardship. I wish them the best as they too try to survive a very hard life. I am one American that will not kick other human being when they are down. Taxes have always been an issue and always will be. We will gripe no matter what our taxes are used for. I would rather mine be used for illigal hispanics..than for legal abortions or a senators million dollar home, or all the other waste in our government. Via la imagration..........we are the greatest country in the world...because imagration is our foundation.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx May 16, 2007

    Yes, it would appear that Hispanics cost us about $61 in health care and education, but did anyone read the sentence before that which said that Hispanics pump $9.2 BILLION into North Carolina's economy? Let's see, 9.2 billion minus 61 million - still a net gain of 9.139 billion.

    Blarney Stone, "muy bien" means fine as in "fine, thanks". I think the word you're looking for is multe, the imperative of multar. I could be wrong.

  • casper May 16, 2007

    Its atleast $1500 to $2000 per baby that is born here. If you dont have a ss number then the hospital cant even ruin your credit like they do some of our lower income americans.So in other words its completly free .