Immigration

The chambers of the NC State House
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Lawmakers at the N.C. General Assembly have adjourned for the year, ending the longest session since 2001. An almost all-night session included passage of bills related to immigration, environmental regulations and technical corrections to thousands of pages of legislation passed during the last eight months.

Before the day started, Senate rules chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville) told a committee room to “stay tuned” and that “we could see all kinds of things between now and later.”

Immigration Bill Sparks Tense Debate

Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator. Here he is filming Lloyd Knight, Marth Graham Dance company for the film Echo.
Marco Williams

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker who is not afraid of telling stories that others don't want to tell. 

He has produced more than a dozen documentaries exploring race, death, violence and the American psyche. His work has earned him an Emmy, a Peabody, and a litany of other documentary awards.

Photo: An Interstate in North Carolina
Jimmy Emmerson / Flickr

Rep. Harry Warren likes to wear flag pins on his jacket: One with the U.S. flag, and another with the North Carolina flag. On Tuesday morning, he sported them as he stood in front of the House of Representatives’ powerful finance committee, arguing the federal government has been ignoring a problem, and that the state government should take action.

“The question before us is whether or not we as an elected body want to take some strong legislative steps to hold undocumented folks accountable to obey North Carolina law,” Warren said.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) talks with WUNC's Frank Stasio
Andrew Tie / WUNC

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) quickly ascended from a seat on the parks and recreation commission in Cornelius, N.C., to speaker of the North Carolina House in 2011, and finally U.S. Senator.

In his first five months, Tillis has taken a particular interest in the military with seats in the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Tillis about national security, deregulation, immigration and other issues in Washington.

National Security

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.”

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrest.
Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of women and children from Central America are still waiting for decisions about whether they will be granted asylum in the United States. Many came here to escape rising violence in their home countries.

But until their court dates, they are being held at family detention centers along the Southwest border. Advocates and attorneys have reported prison-like conditions at these facilities with limited access to legal representation.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

From gay marriage to puppy mills, North Carolina state legislators have filed more than 1,600 bills this legislative session and they are not even halfway done.

Many bills will not make it through the General Assembly, but some are still causing a stir.

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Lawmakers in the state House have until the end of the day to file any bills they have not yet submitted. 

Hundreds of proposals are already up for debate this session. One plan would require university professors to teach four courses per semester to keep their salaries. 

Photo: Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan)
Jorge Valencia

Members of a North Carolina legislative panel approved a plan on Wednesday to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a restricted driver’s license if they pass a criminal background check and meet several other requirements.
 

For sponsors of the bill, the plan is a way to help police enforce local laws when they interact with people who are living in the country illegally. Local charities in Winston-Salem and Greensboro and authorities in Charlotte either issue or are looking for ways to issue identification cards, said Rep. Harry Warren (R-Salisbury).

Sarita and her family arrived from Nepal in 2008, where they had lived in a refugee camp for many years after fleeing political instability in Bhutan.
Andrea Patiño Contreras

The economy can have a major influence on the history of a city.

Factories once brought folks from the world over to new places with a similar goals in mind - to prosper and make a better life. That is the story of Lynn, Massachusetts. Once the home of General Electric and the countless shoe factories, the city was home to immigrants from Canada, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Armenia. Now, Lynn bears only the vestiges of its industrial success and is economically depressed. Immigration continues but from new areas of the world.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator. Here he is filming Lloyd Knight, Marth Graham Dance company for the film Echo.
Marco Williams

Marco Williams is a filmmaker who is not afraid of telling stories that others don't want to tell. 

The Housecleaner Project

In the last two decades, international migration to North Carolina has increased dramatically and more than half of the state’s foreign-born population is Latino. 

Jeanmarie Schubach

This week, staff members from The State of Things are sharing their favorite shows of 2014.

Producer Will Michaels joined the show in May after working as a producer for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and the North Carolina Teacher Project at WUNC.

Some of Will’s favorites included an interview with a championship track coach who grew up in the segregated South and a conversation with some of the pioneers of NASCAR.

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Will Michaels about the conversations that stood out in 2014.

Producer Hady Mawajdeh fulling around behind the mic.
Carol Jackson

As the year draws to a close, The State of Things staff take a look back at some of their favorite segments of 2014. 

Lucrecia and Rose Torre
StoryCorps

When she was 20 years old, Lucrecia de la Torre left her home country of Guatemala and moved to the United States, eventually finding her way to Durham. She was interviewed by her daughter, Rose at the StoryCorps booth in Durham, North Carolina.

Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996 – Marisol daydreams at dusk while anticipating the arrival of more garbage trucks at the municipal dump
Janet Jarman

Immigration has taken center stage this week with President Obama's announcement of protection for some  children and families who entered the country illegally. In North Carolina, some area teachers have recently been trained to better understand the experience of such undocumented immigrants. The training is based on an extraordinary set of photos, taken over two decades, on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

WUNC's Carol Jackson tells the story:

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.

This is a story about two new Americans: Webton Webley, a 26-year-old active service member of the U.S. Army, and his wife 23-year-old Sherell Perry-Webley, an U.S. Army reservist.

Sherell's and Webton's lives in the U.S. have been closely intertwined. They went to the same high school in Jamaica, and Sherell eventually got a green card through her mom, who was living in Fort Lauderdale. Webton arrived to Florida on a visa to study at Miami-Dade College. Webton says that's actually the first place they spoke.

Child with flag
jvoves on Flickr

More than 400 women and children from Central America are currently being held at a temporary detention center in southeast New Mexico. Most fled to the United States to escape violence in their home countries. They are seeking asylum in the United States but face many legal and personal challenges. A group of attorneys from North Carolina traveled to the remote town of Artesia, New Mexico to represent the detainees. Host Frank Stasio talks with two of the attorneys, Evelyn Smallwood and Natalie Teague, about their experiences.

Picture of gavel
Flickr.com

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants have turned themselves in at the U.S. Border this year.

Once they’ve been arrested, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement looks for places to put these kids until their day in immigration court.

The O.R.R. reports 1,648 children were placed in North Carolina between January and August.

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.

Hana Pichova is a UNC professor and author that escaped communism 35 years ago and she's been making the most of her opportunities ever since.
gazette.unc.edu

Hana Pichova grew up under a totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s. 

For Pichova, opportunities for learning and discovery were rare under the control of the communist government.

At 18, she and her parents fled to Switzerland. Pichova decided she wanted to  immigrate to America. Unbeknownst to her parents, she went to the German border to seek political asylum. When they learned of her move, they decided to follow her, despite their reservations. 

Icars / Flickr Creative Commons

Some local governments in North Carolina are considering resolutions that urge the federal government to stop allowing unaccompanied minors into the country illegally. 

Commissioners in Rowan and Brunswick counties have passed such resolutions in recent weeks.  They came shortly after Governor Pat McCrory estimated as many as 1,500 children from Central American countries had settled in North Carolina. It's been reported that violence in those countries has forced the children to flee.

Thar Thwai at work on his radio story in the WUNC studios.
Carol Jackson

About a thousand refugees resettle in North Carolina each year, and one third of them are from Burma and Thailand.  The Triangle is home to four of the nation's 10 refugee and immigrant resettlement organizations.  There are two in Durham, and two in Raleigh.

Resettlement agencies distribute State Department grants, a one-time payment of $925 per refugee.  For the first 90 days, the State Department provides housing and language assistance. But 90 days isn't a very long time when you are coming from a refugee camp. 

Pages