Uniting NC, a non-profit that aims lessen the vitriol and hatred dominating debates on immigration, unveiled a strategy last week to put up billboards that show North Carolina can in fact be a welcoming place, to people of all backgrounds.
The billboard project, funded through individual contributions, comes as other southern states like Alabama have made it clear their anti-immigrant feeling and suffered the negative consequences with parents afraid to send their children to school and businesses unable to find workers in the anti-immigrant climate.
One billboard is up in Raleigh, and more will be put up in Durham, Mebane, Charlotte, Asheville and Goldsboro by the end of the year. (See stories from The News & Observer, WRAL-TV and the Asheville Citizen-Times for more about Uniting NC’s billboard.)
Now Uniting NC is beginning to attract some attention outside the state, with this write-up today in the online-based Huffington Post, by locally based writer Paul Cuadros.
They say there is nothing like Southern hospitality in making folks feel welcomed and included. But lately for immigrants of all stripes, this hasn’t been the general feeling from states like Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The sentiment towards immigrants and Latinos in general has been anything but Southern Comfort; despite the millions of dollars these groups contribute to the economies of these states. Now North Carolina is considering similar local immigration enforcement laws that will disrupt business, tear families apart, and generally try to stop the growth of Latinos in the state. But even as Republican state legislators meet in a special committee to plot their move against unauthorized immigrants specifically, and Latinos in general, a different view is emerging.
….Uniting NC this week unveiled new billboards featuring smiling, comfortable immigrant families across the state with the idea to put a human face on immigrants and immigration. Standing in front of the first billboard of a Muslim family in downtown Raleigh, Kristin Collins, the executive director of Uniting NC said, “We want to tie this with what is happening in Alabama and other states, the laws they have passed, and the effect that has divided the community. We didn’t want to see North Carolina go down that same path.”