Commentary

NC Women United leader decries anti-immigrant legislation

Tara RomanoYesterday, Tara Romano, President of NC Women United and a regular contributor to NC Policy Watch, spoke at a rally protesting House Bill 318 — the legislation wrongfully targeting immigrants and food assistance recipients that currently sits on Gov. McCrory’s desk awaiting review.

She was kind enough to share a copy of  her remarks, which we present below:

“Buenos tardes. Me llamo Tara Romano, and I am president of North Carolina Women United. As an organization that advocates for the full equality of all women across the state, we stand with the many groups represented here in calling for Governor McCrory to veto HB318. Deceptively titled ‘The Protect North Carolina Workers Act,’ we see this bill as only protecting those who already have power, and are vested in upholding the current racist, sexist status quo.

How are we protecting North Carolina workers when we are denying people jobs and the ability to provide for themselves and their families based on their immigration status? This bill attempts to reinforce the racist lie that black and brown people are making it hard for white citizens to find jobs; when the real reason many North Carolinians can’t find jobs is because of the failed economic policies of our state leadership. Immoral and greedy employers who have taken advantage of undocumented workers desperate to care for their families aren’t interested in creating good jobs for residents of North Carolina, or for anyone; they are only interested in increasing their profits however they can, including by continuing to exploit workers who are further and further pushed to the margins of society by policies like HB318.

How are we protecting North Carolina workers and their families when we are decreasing their ability to be safe in their homes and communities? By creating additional barriers between the immigrant community and their local governments, service providers and law enforcement, we are pushing entire groups of people and families further into the shadows, leaving them vulnerable to corrupt and criminal elements that will take advantage of this second-class status to exploit and harm them.

In particular, we are concerned that the epidemic of sexual and domestic violence – which impacts so many women regardless of immigration status, race, ethnicity, and age – will be allowed to flourish in such an atmosphere of secrecy and shadows. This type of violence doesn’t just happen; it happens when we as a society say certain groups of people are not deserving of the same basic human rights to safety and security. By insisting immigrants – neighbors living in our communities – must give up the same access to justice for crimes committed against them simply because of their status, we are creating a vulnerable class of women to be targeted by perpetrators of this type of violence specifically because they know they can get away with it. And violence is never contained by artificial boundaries; if we don’t hold violent people accountable for their actions, all of us are unsafe.

We challenge those who say they want to end domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking to join us in calling for a veto of HB318.

And finally, how are we protecting North Carolina workers and their families when we are taking away social safety net benefits like food stamps for workers who are struggling with long-term unemployment? How does kicking people when they are down benefit any of us? This provision will not help the unemployed find jobs; it will, however, benefit unscrupulous employers and others who want to exploit desperate North Carolinians for their own gain.

They named this bill the ‘Protect North Carolina Workers Act,’ but we believe the only jobs being protected by this bill are the jobs of those who wrote and passed it, as they kowtow to the greedy, racist and corrupt few who want to continue to make their wealth off of the backs of the exploited many. We ask Governor McCrory to veto this bill, and to signal to the bill’s backers that North Carolina is better than this. Gracias.”

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