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N.C. faith leaders ask for fair treatment of immigrants

Posted October 7, 2008

— Religious leaders from across the state met Tuesday to call for legislative reforms that support fair treatment and protection of immigrants.

Rev. Cookie Santiago, director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries of the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church, is among the nearly 1,000 people who have signed the North Carolina Religious Coalition for Justice's statement, condemning discrimination against immigrants. 

The Raleigh resident, who was born to Puerto Rican parents in Massachusetts, says she sometimes gets treated differently because she is a Latina.

“You can't help but wonder because you know that there are people who have those prejudices against my name, against my skin color, against my people,” she said.

Santiago says she is also concerned over recent negative statements made by elected officials.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell has been under fire since his comments on the growing minority population in his county were published in The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh. He called Mexicans "trashy" and said the growing Latino population in his county was "breeding like rabbits."

“On the way to take my child to school, she has to listen to radio programs where people are saying, 'We are trashy or that we reproduce like rabbits,'” Santiago said.

Twenty-six civil rights organizations and the Hispanic media group Que Pasa responded to Bizzell's remarks with a call for his resignation.

A comment by Mecklenburg Commissioner Bill James also drew allegations of racism.

“A county commissioner ... compared undocumented immigrants to prostitutes and drug dealers,” said George Reed, executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches.

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.

The coalition came together Tuesday morning at the Methodist Building, 1307 Glenwood Ave., in Raleigh to bring attention to immigrants living in the state and to ask for an end to discrimination.

“We will not forget what happened to us, and we will not let it happen to anyone new,” said Eric Solomon, rabbi at Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh.

The  clergy feel “shame and embarrassment that we're acting the way we're acting in this country,” Santiago said.

This group hopes a little education will a go a long way toward acceptance of immigrants.

94 Comments

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  • edith wharton Oct 10, 4:43 p.m.

    God is color-blind and Jesus never advocated persecuting people for trying to improve their lives. For anyone wanting to criticize these peoples' choices, try growing up in poverty and knowing your family has no chance for anything better. It's a sobering prospect and not one, thankfully, that most of us born in the USA face. Be slow to judgement and quick to compassion.

  • greentara Oct 9, 9:41 p.m.

    yes,it is indeed the end of times.....

  • ice cream Oct 9, 9:08 p.m.

    "ice cream, proof is there, look around"

    I would like to see your source.

  • Adelinthe Oct 9, 8:19 p.m.

    tweathe850 - "How many Illegals bought mortgages and then defaulted, possibly 10's of thousands. Look where that got us, into a depression."

    Oh for God's sakes spare us.

    It's been difficult (though not as difficult as it should have been obviously) for an American to get a mortgage in this country, let alone an illegal alien.

    sheesh

    And while some might like to blame everything on them, including their toenail fungus, it just isn't logical, rational or true.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Oct 9, 8:17 p.m.

    RKBA - "People are getting FED UP with the lack of action from the agencies responsible for enforcing immigration laws. Unless the churches wish to pay the societal burden of these illegals, they have no business advocating tolerance of lawbreakers."

    I agree.

    Discrimination will always be with us because of the human factor, so I don't think unfairness against any nationality can ever be totally eliminated.

    However, if they ARE here illegally and get caught, they need to get 25 years in prison HERE before we send them back. That will deter some from coming here in the first place, and it will end the revolving doors at the borders.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • RKBA Oct 9, 6:46 p.m.

    People are getting FED UP with the lack of action from the agencies responsible for enforcing immigration laws. Unless the churches wish to pay the societal burden of these illegals, they have no business advocating tolerance of lawbreakers.

  • Snow whites poisoned Apple Oct 9, 5:18 p.m.

    ice cream, proof is there, look around

  • Arkansas Razorback Oct 9, 5:13 p.m.

    Let the "faith leaders" take care of them then.

  • ice cream Oct 9, 4:33 p.m.

    "How many Illegals bought mortgages and then defaulted, possibly 10's of thousands. Look where that got us, into a depression."

    Proof??????????

  • tweathe850 Oct 9, 4:17 p.m.

    How many Illegals bought mortgages and then defaulted, possibly 10's of thousands. Look where that got us, into a depression.

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