Immigration Reform

Durhamites gathered at the LGBTQ Center to write letters.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Nearly a dozen people are hunched over a long table at the LGBTQ Center of Durham on a recent evening.

They're scrawling hopeful sentiments on brightly-colored pieces of paper. The letters of support are headed to six young men arrested in North Carolina in targeted immigration enforcement actions in January.

An image of Wildin David Guillen Acosta
The Acosta family

Riverside High School senior Wildin David Guillen Acosta was detained by ICE officers in January. Acosta sought asylum in the United States after he says his life was threatened by gangs in his native Honduras.

Legal efforts to stop his deportation failed, but over the weekend, Congressman G.K. Butterfield convinced the director of ICE, Sarah Saldana, to issue an executive stay that allows Acosta to remain in a detention facility in Georgia.

Riverside High School students called for the release of Wildin Acosta outside Congressman G.K. Butterfield's Durham office.
Jess Clark

UPDATED March 20, 2016 On Sunday morning, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Sarah Salaña issued an order preventing the deportation of Riverside High School student Wildin Acosta before his case has been heard by an immigration judge. Congressman G.K. Butterfield says he worked through Saturday night with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) to convince Saldaña to use her executive authority. This is apparently an about-face from Salaña's decision on Friday night not to intervene.

photo of Wildin Acosta
Courtesy of the Acosta family

On a cold morning in late January, Riverside high school senior Wildin David Guillen Acosta started his car to warm it up for the drive to school. He went inside his family’s Durham apartment to grab his book bag, and when he came back out, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, or ICE officers, were waiting for him.

An image of a man protesting in Durham
Ivan Almonte

Mexico is thousands of miles away from North Carolina, but Victoria Bouloubasis said she felt like she was there when a friend showed her a video from his phone.

“I am in a Mexican restaurant in Durham and looking at this tiny screen of a video of police brutality in rural Mexico,” Bouloubasis said.

“It was crazy because somebody took the video on their smartphone, put it on Facebook and to see something completely barbaric by the police you had to wonder about the parallels happening in the States.”

President Obama
Pete Souza

President Obama announced an executive order last night that paves the way for millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.

The order applies to an estimated four to five million people nationwide. Here in  North Carolina, it applies to more than 100,000 people.

Javier Diaz de Leon
Consulado General de Mexico en Raleigh

    

Nearly 30 percent of immigrants in the United States are from Mexico, but migration between the two countries is changing. A study from the Pew Research Center indicates this country is at the tail end of the largest wave of immigration in American history.

And in North Carolina, more families are permanently relocating here rather than traveling for temporary work.

Lili Morales is a senior at Northern High School in Durham, N.C. As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, she reports on the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  Young people who entered the country illegally with their parents are eligible for the program if they are in school -- but they have to renew every two years.  It's a stressful process for some.

Emilio Vicente
Emilio Vicente campaign

Late last week The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill's student newspaper, wrote an article titled "5 Students Enter Race For SBP." (SBP is student body president.)

"As of Tuesday night, five students are in the running for UNC Student Body President.

U.S. House of Representatives

Some North Carolina members of the U.S. House are taking sides as their chamber gets ready to take up immigration reform this week.   Many House Republicans on Capitol Hill disagree with the comprehensive reform plan passed by the Senate.


GOP Congressman George Holding of Raleigh says the bill doesn't go far enough to protect the border today.  He also says he doesn't think it will be effective moving forward.

Kay Hagan
hagan.senate.gov

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan was among the supporters helping to pass an immigration reform plan proposed by a bipartisan group of her colleagues.  The Senate voted 68-32 in favor of the bill introduced by the Senate's so-called 'Gang of Eight' as a way to provide a path to citizenship for more than 11 million people who entered the country illegally. 

Hagan says she spoke with many North Carolinians who urged her to support the bill and said it will benefit the nation on several fronts.

ncdreamteam.org

As Washington debates immigration reform, more and more undocumented young people are coming out of the shadows.  One local group is engaging their struggle with their identities through art.

Guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson speaks with artist Annabel Manning about her exhibition, now on view at Duke University. She is also joined by one of the undocumented young artists, Marco Cervantes, and by Jose Torres-Don, a member of the advocacy group NC Dream Team.

The latest Global Business Outlook survey from Duke University and CFO Magazine shows companies are hungry for immigration reform.  Close to 90 percent of Chief Financial Officers surveyed say the U.S. government should adopt a merit-based system to determine which immigrants would get to stay and work in this country.

Duke Finance Professor John Graham is director of the quarterly Global Business Outlook survey.  He says they had not asked this type of immigration question before.

Strickland Farms tobacco and house
Leoneda Inge

A new survey shows farmers across North Carolina are worried about the agricultural workforce shortage.  And they want Immigration Reform to help fix it.  More than 600 farmers filled out the Agricultural Workforce survey spear-headed by the North Carolina Farm Bureau.  Faylene Whitaker of Whitaker Farms in Climax, NC, filled one out.