Lawmakers hear impassioned arguments on illegal immigration

Dozens of people spoke out Wednesday on whether North Carolina should regulate immigration as state lawmakers consider how to clamp down on the flow of illegal immigrants.

The House Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration held a two-hour public hearing on the issue, but committee leaders said further meetings would be put off until the fall as the state awaits a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the legality of tough immigration restrictions in Arizona.

"If you're not here legally, you are stealing from all the rest of us," Cindy Caribou told lawmakers. "We cannot just open everything to everybody in the world."

Several ministers said Christianity calls for people to help the downtrodden, including foreigners, and immigrant advocates said punishing illegal immigrants creates more problems than it solves.

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287 (g) immigration program on chopping block

News 14 Carolina - March 6, 2012

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CHARLOTTE -- A federal funding fight might reduce or eliminate a controversial program that identifies illegal immigrants called 287(g).

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office was first to sign on to the program in May, 2006. In that time, the program's helped to identify nearly 12,000 illegal immigrants who were later put in the deportation process.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget would eliminate $17 million from the 287(g) program. The Department of Homeland Security says that money would be shifted to Secure Communities, which uses fingerprints to help identify potential illegal immigrants.

"The biggest difference is Secure Communities will not detect anyone who hasn't had a previous encounter [with law enforcement]," said Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey.


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Everyone must be part of the solution

By the Rev. Melvin Whitley

Durham Herald-Sun - February 22, 2012

Gun violence must be stopped, and everyone needs to be part of the solution. I strongly support Mayor Bill Bell’s initiative to reduce gun violence by increasing the bail bond on individuals who discharge a gun in the commission of a crime.

The current guidelines for the magistrates are ineffective at protecting the public. When an individual is arrested for discharging a firearm in the commission of a crime, the magistrate is first in the line to determine the bond amount. That amount must comply with the bond guidelines, and we need to alter those guidelines so that the bond amount is proportionate to the crime committed. At present the amount is not proportionate, and it’s too easy for persons accused of violent crimes involving guns to make bail and put the public further at risk.

Defense lawyers play a role in this problem by always asking for a lower bond regardless of the alleged crime and working to convince a judge that the lower amount is appropriate. They will tell us the main purpose of bail is to ensure that defendants show up for trial. The truth is bail can be denied in certain non¬capital cases based upon a finding of substantial likelihood of harm to others. When the facts are evident or the presumption great, bail may be denied in the following instances; in felony cases involving acts of violence, or felony sexual assault offenses on another person, if the court finds on clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the release of the accused would result in great bodily harm to others. When an individual fires a gun in public doing a criminal act, that individual has met the criteria for using a high bond as a restraint.

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Liberal group organizes rally against GOP legislature

News and Observer "Under the Dome" blog

Action NC, a liberal advocacy group, is organizing a rally on the front lawn of the legislative building to greet lawmakers when they return Thursday.

The rally is timed for the first day lawmakers return after Republicans held a midnight special session in January to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a teacher dues bill.

"Under the cover of darkness in the early morning hours of January 5th, the N.C. General Assembly engaged in an unannounced, unconstitutional and unethical legislative session to punish the voice of North Carolina’s teachers," writes Kevin Rogers, the group's campaign director. The rally starts at 11 a.m., an hour before lawmakers convene.

The group's email includes a picture of a speeding train juxtaposed with smaller darkened photos of Republican leaders Paul "Skip" Stam, Thom Tillis, Ruth Samuelson, Phil Berger, Art Pope, Nelson Dollar, Justin Burr, Pat McElraft and Mike Hager. "Stop out-of-control rightwing extremist lawmakers from running North Carolina before it's too late," the tagline reads.


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Action NC backs West Side Latino tenants with housing-rights issue

by Laura Camilo on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 4:07 PM


If you spent any time around Occupy Charlotte's home base this past weekend, you probably saw a group of men, women and children marching with an “Action NC” banner. Those familiar with local Spanish-language newspaper Qué Pasa Mi Gente may have recognized them as residents of West Charlotte's Stonewall Jackson homes, whose predicament the paper has covered extensively.

Earlier this month, some 21 families living in Stonewall Jackson Homes received letters telling them that upcoming repairs would be forcing them out of their homes and that they had until October 31 to vacate the premises. Stonewall's owners neither offered residents alternative lodging options nor assured them that they would be able to return to their homes.

Frustrated, some Stonewall tenants called Action NC. Héctor Vaca, the grassroots activist organization's Charlotte director, has worked closely with the tenants to reach an agreement with the complex that will accommodate those being told to leave, and to ensure the residences are up to code. We spoke to Vaca for an update on the case.

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Citizens say: Leave Social Security, other benefits alone


DURHAM — Stanley Royster has had a hard life. At age 48, he’s spent years without a home, been addicted to drugs, lost his job and lost his health. But one thing that’s helping him today is his Social Security disability check, which he credits with putting — and keeping — a roof over his head and food in his stomach.

Royster was among about two dozen people who met Saturday at First Presbyterian Church on East Main Street to voice their opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which Congress is considering to reduce the deficit. “Leave our Social Security alone!” is how the Rev. Melvin Whitley of Durham expressed his feelings about cuts in social programs.

He wasn’t alone.

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For Rodrigo Cruz, A Miracle Happened

Tanner Latham
Wednesday October 5, 2011

 Rodrigo Cruz (left) stands with his mother Angelica and brother Silvio.
 Rodrigo Cruz (left) stands with his mother Angelica and brother Silvio.

Rodrigo Cruz walked into Charlotte’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office Tuesday morning with his suit jacket buttoned.

The 16-year-old faced deportation, and this was his day to check in with the office and prove that he would be leaving the United States by October 21. That proof was a bus ticket -tucked into folder- that would transport him back to his grandparents in Mexico.

But this day was also Cruz’s chance for him and his lawyer, Carnell Johnson, to make a case for why he should be allowed to stay in Charlotte and continue his studies as a sophomore at Harding University High School.

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Ellmers defends stances while protesters gather

By Geoffrey Cooper - Rocky Mount Telegraph

June 30, 2011 - 063011ellemers3.jpgU.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers joined Twin Counties leaders for a legislative forum Wednesday to explain what Congress has been doing about the economy.

But about 15 area protesters had a different agenda, as they gathered in the heat clutching posters and banners that chided Ellmers for her votes to restructure Medicare and other federal programs.

Ellmers, R-2nd District, spoke to more than 80 local business and civic leaders at the forum sponsored by The Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce and the Golden East Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Can a food truck change a neighborhood?

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
June 10, 2011 7:22 p.m. EDT
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Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) -- Most of the time, ordering a burrito is just trying to get lunch.

But ordering one from a food truck in Charlotte could be a political act.

After a 2008 Charlotte ordinance tightened restrictions on mobile food vendors, several went out of business or left town. But with a changing population that has tasted food truck fare in other cities, the rules are again being debated -- much to the chagrin of some neighborhoods here.

Some in Charlotte said the food truck debate is a test of the city's culture and whether this Southern boomtown can support grassroots street food like residents do in Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; or Washington.

Others said it's a fight over the character of neighborhoods, over whether food trucks are a service or a dangerous signal of a place that's failing to thrive.

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North Carolina "Loncheras" Fight to Stay in Business

Published April 06, 2011

Lunch Truck Pic

A North Carolina group is fighting to modify an ordinance that has put most of Charlotte's mobile food vendors, known as "loncheras," out of circulation in which is being considered a "direct attack" on Hispanics.

Proclaiming that "Carne Asada Is Not a Crime," representatives of Action NC on Tuesday will present to the Charlotte city council a petition signed by more than 250 people supporting the loncheras.

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