Commentary

Immigrants in NC: Is the current hostile atmosphere the new normal?

The best answer to the question in the headline above, of course, is “Let’s fervently hope not.” Unfortunately, recent events indicate that there’s reason for concern. As Professor Julie Weise of the University of Oregon made clear in an excellent column in Raleigh’s News & Observer last week critiquing Governor McCrory’s transformation since his days as Mayor of Charlotte, political opportunism is a pernicious drug for people in public office.

“Though the governor claims he has always supported legal immigration but not illegal, Charlotte’s economy thrived and his career benefited from policies that welcomed immigrant labor whatever its status. Under McCrory’s watch, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office instituted a policy to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for any reason, but the Charlotte Police Department declined to do so, preferring to retain the trust of the immigrant community – in other words, the very type of ‘sanctuary city’ policy McCrory has just outlawed. The welcome mat was out, the immigrants came with or without papers, and the city flourished economically.

Paradoxically, it was this very economic ‘revitalization’ of Charlotte, bolstered by Latinos, that allowed McCrory to nurture statewide ambition. Setting his sights on North Carolina’s Executive Mansion, McCrory turned his back on Latinos around 2005. That year, he appointed an Immigration Study Commission to provide political cover for his growing ambivalence on the issue, and by 2006 he was openly speaking out against Latino immigration.

Fortunately, there continue to be lots of opportunities for people who want to promote sane and humane policies toward immigrants to learn, educate and speak out. There will be another such event next Wednesday here in Raleigh at the final N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation of the year. Here are the details:

Immigrants in North Carolina: Where do things stand? Where do we go from here?

Featuring Patrick McHugh of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center and Raul Pinto of the N.C. Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

Click here to register

With 2016 election campaigns already well underway, immigrants and immigration policy are, for better or worse, front and center in the national and state political debates. Unfortunately, much of the discussion has more than to do with fear than truth. Given this backdrop, there is a greater need than ever for caring and thinking people to be armed with the facts.

Patrick McHugh

Dr. Patrick McHugh is the N.C. Budget and Tax Center’s Economic Policy Analyst. At the BTC, McHugh conducts research and analysis on issues related to the economy and economic policy. Earlier this year, he authored a special report entitled “Smart Choices in an Era of Migration” which examined how the growing immigrant population in North Carolina has contributed to the economic vitality of the state. Immediately prior to joining the Budget and Tax Center, Patrick served as a Fiscal Analyst for the North Carolina General Assembly where his duties included economic impact modeling, tax and appropriation analysis, and monitoring economic development policy.

Raul Pinto

Raul Pinto is a staff attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center’s Immigrants and Refugees Rights Project where he represents low-income individuals negotiating the immigration system. Prior to joining the Justice Center, Raul worked as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. At the ACLU, Raul’s work focused on investigating violations of civil rights with an emphasis on immigrants’ rights, racial justice and community interaction with law enforcement. Raul has also conducted extensive public education about constitutional rights to Spanish speaking audiences and developed written materials about about the rights of immigrants and protecting civil liberties.

Click here to register

When: Wednesday, December 9 at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

 

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