NC billboards express support for immigrants
Posted December 13, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Raleigh-based nonprofit on Tuesday unveiled a statewide billboard campaign in support of immigrants.
Uniting NC called on North Carolinians to "welcome the stranger" this holiday season and to treat immigrants with respect.
"We’ve watched states like Alabama and Arizona be torn apart by fear and anger about immigrants,” Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh said in a statement. “Here in North Carolina, we have an opportunity to do better than that. In this holiday season, let’s remember that, when we talk about immigration, we are talking about human beings who have the same hopes and desires that any of us do.”
The first billboards will go up in Raleigh, followed by Durham, Mebane, Charlotte, Asheville and Goldsboro.
The billboards were paid for using a grassroots method called "crowdfunding." Uniting NC proposed the project online, and more than 250 people contributed toward the cost of buying them, officials said.
Fiaz Fareed, an immigrant from Indian and the outreach coordinator for the Islamic Association of Raleigh, said members of the Muslim community often feel that they are looked at with suspicion or negative stereotypes.
"I moved here because I wanted to live in a country where all people are treated equally and where everyone has a chance to work for the American dream,” Fareed said in a statement. “Let’s make sure we remain the land of opportunity for all people.”
Rev. Diane Faires of St. Paul's Christian Church said her church has seen a growing number of refugees who have fled harassment and violence in other countries.
"Many of them have been through horrific experiences, but they are amazingly resilient and courageous," Faires said in a statement. "We have been enriched by their presence and the new perspective they offer us."
Uniting NC is part of a national movement, led by the Atlanta-based group Welcoming America, that works to build understanding between natives and new immigrants. Uniting NC is one of 19 state affiliates working to build communities that provide fertile soil for all people to achieve their potential.
“Our goal is to invite people outside the polarized policy debate on immigration,” Chris Liu-Beers, Uniting NC's board chairman, said in a statement. “We want to help people see that immigrants are not frightening invaders. They are our neighbors. They are people with stories much like our own, who are trying to make a good life for themselves and their families. The fabric of our state is stronger when we engage with everyone in our communities to see the values that bring us together.”