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Protesters rally against immigration enforcement program

Posted April 10, 2009
Updated June 5, 2010

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— Activists marching across the state for immigrants' rights rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Friday in support of abolishing 287(g), a federal program that allows local law enforcement officers to act as immigration officials.

"We're looking for immigration reform," said Tony Macias, assistant director of the Durham-based group Student Action With Farm Workers. "We think that the laws are inhumane and the way that those laws are practiced are also inhumane."

Protesters rally against immigration enforcement program Debate continues over 287(g)

A recent congressional report criticized 287(g) saying it is not being used correctly and could lead to officers misusing their authority. Other reports have suggested the program leads to profiling.

The pilot program is under way in select locations throughout the United States, including Wake County. It gives local law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants they have arrested.

Since it started last July in Wake County, sheriff's deputies have referred nearly 1,600 people to immigration officials.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found immigration officials did not clearly explain to officers how to use their arrest authority under the program, nor did they tell local officers that the program is meant for the pursuit of serious offenders.

"Many folks who either have been arrested or detained for minor traffic violations or for not having a license have ultimately been sent to a detention center and many times deported," said Betty Marin, with the group, Witness for Peace.

Marin said 287(g) is a small part of the bigger issue of immigration rights.

"If the current laws are a failure, it doesn't make any sense to continue enforcing them," she said.

Others support 287(g) and say it is doing what it is meant to do – taking offenders off the street.

"We have a very serious problem in America with illegal immigration and the cost associated with it," said Ron Woodard, director of N.C. Listen, a Cary nonprofit whose members advocate for legal immigration.

The group also believes the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the U.S. should be limited while there is a recession and while the unemployment rate is high.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison has said he also supports the program, which costs about $150,000 to run annually. He has said he plans to keep the program running.

Friday's stop at the Capitol is one of several on the five-day “Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace," which was organized by the Carolinas Interfaith Task Force on Central America.

Marchers from 33 organizations and churches marched 100 miles to advocate for immigrants' and workers rights. They spoke on a number of other issues, as well, including increased salaries and better working conditions for farm workers and the death penalty.

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  • braddyg Apr 14, 2009

    "Please tell us the name of that business. You should have no problem doing so since you are so proud of your stance on this issue."

    Yes, please do, so all of us "hatemongers" (a.k.a. legal law-abiding citizens) will make sure not to frequent your under-the-table racket.

  • imback Apr 14, 2009

    "And for every person like you, there are ten like me. I shop in Latino-owned businesses, and I hire Latinos to do all kinds of work for my business. I don't care about immigration status. It doesn't effect me."

    You have stated before that you own your own business. Please tell us the name of that business. You should have no problem doing so since you are so proud of your stance on this issue.

  • Stringbean Apr 14, 2009

    WRAL do you read the post here on golo? Can you see what the % is of people that want to hear about what illegal's are going to NC?........

  • lorivalentine1 Apr 14, 2009

    cartwand74: The answer to your question is yes, but her husband is not.

  • Nancy Apr 14, 2009

    ing posted: "I shop in Latino-owned businesses, and I hire Latinos to do all kinds of work for my business. I don't care about immigration status. It doesn't effect me."

    I thought you posted elsewhere that you were leaving this country. If you're going to Canada, you won't have cheap labor to hire there for your company. Perhaps you're moving to Mexico?

  • ignc73 Apr 14, 2009

    "We do not shop in their businesses, we do not support their causes, we "suspect" most hispanics as being illegals, etc. I, for one, make a concerted effort not to support anything hispanic -since I cannot tell a legal from an illegal cause."

    And for every person like you, there are ten like me. I shop in Latino-owned businesses, and I hire Latinos to do all kinds of work for my business. I don't care about immigration status. It doesn't effect me.

  • rjacks20 Apr 14, 2009

    here's an idea, for every illegal that enters the country, we deport one of these activists. we might be better off.

  • Eduardo1 Apr 14, 2009

    I will speak of those illegals, not legal immigrants. If these protesters have nothing better to do, then, go to Washington and protest the President & Congress to get AMERICANS who have lost their jobs to illegals back to work. Protest those eho are responsible for Fannie & Freddie (Dodd, Schumer, Frank, Clinton, ETC:) Protest multi-million dollar contracts to sports & other celebrities causing the price of tickets to sky-rocket plus products that they endorse

  • artist Apr 14, 2009

    "It won't be long before American vigilante groups will take matters into their own hands about illegals."

    This is absolutely correct. We already have in many ways. We do not shop in their businesses, we do not support their causes, we "suspect" most hispanics as being illegals, etc. I, for one, make a concerted effort not to support anything hispanic -since I cannot tell a legal from an illegal cause.

    It will only get worse... and with good reason in my opinion. Americans are getting fed-up and publicly speaking their minds about this sensitive issue. That's a sign of things to come.

  • cartwand74 Apr 14, 2009

    Con Amor, are YOU legal? Now as far asw the profile thing goes, I do not put a profile up, I have no need to advertise myself.

    Now.......as far as here in NC, 99.99% of illegals are hispanic which includes everything below Texas, Arizona, and California. Also, I don't give a rat's behind what color you are of even if you have checks and polka dots, if you came here illegally, you are an ILLEGAL ALIEN!!!!!!! You need to be arrested, and deported if you can't prove you're legal. I have to show documentation to get a job, you should have to show documentation to prove you are legal here. If you can't, go back to where you came from. NO AMNESTY, NO ILLEGALS! Write this on all paper money and all outgoing envelopes. I already do and use it as a signature on all my emails.

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