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This weekend, for the 28th year, Raleigh will celebrate the diversity of its population during International Festival. I love this event. It’s at the convention center with the shimmer wall, and the hundred-plus booths showcase the cultures of different countries and regions that call the Triangle “home.” There’s food, dance and a whole lot of other activities, including cooking demonstrations.

A naturalization ceremony kicks off the event, inviting more people into the fold of the American experiment of a representative democracy. This will happen despite a government shutdown.

It also happens at a time when immigrants, as well as their supporters in our communities, are clamoring for an overhaul to our broken immigration rules. This week, despite government gridlock, House Democrats worked to refocus attention on moving the country forward by introducing a comprehensive immigration bill. 

This weekend, people will also be raising their voices around the country, participating in events commemorating the National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect.  About 15 events throughout North Carolina alone are planned.

The Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the N.C. Justice Center  will be collecting signatures at International Festival telling our Congressional representatives that we want fair and inclusive immigration reform that focuses on legislation that creates a roadmap to citizenship and reunites families, and to oppose bills that penalize immigrant families and diminish public safety.

 

In addition to the mushrooming movement of fast food workers that is generating protests and strikes around the state today, the good folks at Fair Share will be calling on Congresswoman Renee Ellmers today with a petition calling for immigration reform. This is from the announcement:

“Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform for a fair economy will deliver more than 1,000 petition signatures to U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers Thursday, demanding that the congresswoman call for an up-or-down House vote. The action comes as proponents of immigration reform highlight the issue in North Carolina and across the country as members of Congress prepare to head back to Washington, D.C. in less than two weeks.

‘When we bring 11.5 million aspiring Americans out of the shadows and allow them to join the legal, regulated workforce, Read More

A group of Asian American “DREAM Riders” from California, Illinois and Virginia will be traveling across the country in the next 2 weeks in a “national effort to build a unified Asian American voice for comprehensive immigration reform.”

They will be stopping tonight at 630pm in Charlotte at The Asian Library for a community forum “What’s ‘Asians’ got to do with it?” to address how immigration reform impacts the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The forum is hosted by the Southeast Asian Coalition, United 4 the Dream, and the Latin American Coalition.

More information about the “DREAM Riders” tour across America here: http://krcla.org/en/Dream

Dream-riders-charlotte-poster

 

In case you missed it over the weekend, Raleigh’s News & Observer had an encouraging story in the Sunday edition. This is the summary from the good folks at Uniting NC:

Today’s N&O includes a great story about Uniting NC’s most recent volunteer day.

Last Saturday we continued our series of service events  bringing together immigrants and non-immigrants to give back to their community. And again we had lots of great volunteers looking to lend a hand. This time we had over 30 volunteers from 10 different countries.

We sometimes hear cynics tell us that people are coming to the U.S. looking for handouts. They emphasize costs without considering contributions. But have they ever met the people they’re talking about? Read More

Immigrant rightsThe following post comes to us from Hector Vaca, Charlotte Director of the progressive advocacy group, Action NC:

“Now hear this!  A People’s platform opposing HB 786, the RECLAIM NC Act

In the last few weeks, I’ve worked with community leaders and members of our organization, Action NC, and various partner groups around the state, to hold community forums in Spanish about House Bill 786, the “RECLAIM NC” Act, being considered now in the state legislature. In the forums, our organizations and lawyers shared information about exactly what is included in each section of the bill.  But the main goal of the workshops was to hear from immigrant communities directly THEIR thoughts and opinions on the bill. Participants had a variety of ways to express their views about these issues, including group discussion, Q&A and interactive activities like voting on various provisions as harmful or beneficial.

By now, forums have happened all over the state, from Hendersonville to Burgaw, from Charlotte to Durham, from Greenville to Siler City, from Raleigh to Raeford, and other towns, too. There have been at least 18 workshops in all. The sizes of forums ranged from 15 participants to 120 or more. More than 750 immigrant community members have participated in total.  This is no small accomplishment, and it means, to us at Action NC, that the immigrant community is discussing the bill in some detail, and here’s what they are saying: Read More