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Demonstrators arrested for protesting HB 318 have their say

318protestersToday the six demonstrators who were arrested in late October for blocking traffic outside the Governor’s Mansion protesting HB 318 will hold a press conference outside of the Wake County Justice Center after appearing in court.

Why do they adamantly oppose HB 318, the Protect North Carolina Workers Act?

As the Alto HB 318 Coalition explains:

HB 318 limits the types of ID cards immigrants can use to identify with government officials, and prevents localities from passing policies which seek to limit the collaboration between local law enforcement and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE).  The use of E-Verify systems to check an employee’s legal status has also been expanded further. The law has led to statewide protests, citing the harmful effect it will have on the immigrant and low-income communities of North Carolina.

Carmen Rodriguez, an undocumented mother who is among the protesters who will be appearing in court, explained her opposition to HB 318 in an op-ed this week on the Daily Kos website:

Essentially, the North Carolina General Assembly is giving in to the recent wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric by taking away the right to identify myself.

As of last month, the use of consular documents from embassies, as well as Municipal ID’s, was banned as a valid form of identification when interacting with certain government officials.  The use of E-Verify systems to check an employee’s legal status has also been implemented even further, which will only drive immigrants further underground, making them more vulnerable to worker abuses and wage theft.

Thankfully, a last minute change to the bill made it so law enforcement officers can still accept our Municipal ID’s, thanks in part to police departments in cities like Greensboro and Burlington who spoke out against the bill.

Still, it has been made clear that we are currently being targeted along with our state’s low-income community, and that the end goal is to criminalize us out of our desire for freedom and safety.

My life as a working mother is hard enough when our state refuses to provide people like myself with drivers’ licenses.  Being at risk of constant ticketing or worse whenever I get behind the wheel leaves me anxious to perform even the most basic tasks, such as buying groceries or picking up my children from school.

Hearing such hateful words against the Latino community from state officials like Republican Rep. George Cleveland, who recently said that my community has no right to a “sense of belonging here,” only pushes me further in my fight for social change.  Despite our work ethic and willingness to accept jobs that no one else will, we are undervalued and disrespected by our state government, and I’m tired of not being given the opportunity to take part in the simplest of activities, like volunteering at my children’s school because I am denied a state ID.

Thursday’s noon-time presser (at 300 S. Salisbury Steet.) with Rodriguez and other demonstrators will immediately follow their court appearance, and will feature allies speaking on why they risked arrest in protesting the recently signed House Bill 318.

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