Detained immigrant children temporarily sent to NC

Far removed from what is familiar, around 1,200 children (mainly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) who were detained at the border have been taken to North Carolina.Federal authorities have been holding immigration court in Charlotte, but in the meantime the children are at the mercy of the state.

This has sparked a new debate on the ever-consistent issue of immigration.

According to The News & Observer, Governor McCrory believes the cases need quicker processing to make sure the children are sent back home. Many activists in the state, however, disagree.

“The government does not pay for the children’s lawyers, and in N.C., 1,200 children were placed here where there are over 100 counties,” said Mike Figueras, the Youth Coordinator of El Pueblo, a Latin American activist group in Raleigh in an email to The Guilfordian.

“Depending on where they were sent it could be 12 per county. Does that sound like a ‘burden’ on the school system?”

One issue has been finding homes for the children. While some have relatives and others have sponsors, others have nowhere to go. For those children, there are new plans to create a shelter for undocumented children in Charlotte.

The plan for the shelter is that it will be a day care center for up to 400 children, but it will not provide overnight lodgings. The Rev. John Cleghorn with Caldwell Presbyterian Church offered his facility as an option.

“The children are normally sent to people who want them, (like) some type of relative,” said Figueras. “Yet they will probably still be deported because (to avoid deportation), they have to prove fear of persecution in their home countries because of their race, religion, political opinion or because they are part of a particular social group. Which they cannot and (therefore) will not be given asylum.”

In the meantime, a lot of these immigrant children will enter the N.C. school system. This is a cause of concern for some, as  citizens’ tax dollars will be paying for people who are undocumented. Some people are up in arms, believing that these children could be a burden.

“My compassion lies with our homeless veterans and our homeless legal Americans,” wrote Karen Benghazi Holsopple on The News and Observer website. “We do not need some other country’s law breakers.”

If they want to come here and have a good life, do it legally. Our tax dollars are paying for these criminals.”

Figueras, however, believes this is not an issue of legality but humanity.

“How ‘human’ should the U.S. be?” asked Figueras. “The children will be sent to almost certain death, violence (or) crime. They risked their lives coming here, walking treacherous miles expecting a hug and they got handcuffs.”

Guilford immigrant students have first-hand experience of this. Junior Bonner student Maria Fernanda Gonzalez has a particular interest in immigration, as she came from Mexico at the age of three.

“When we arrived to this country, we started contributing positively to the economy by working,” said Gonzalez. “We have a tax ID that allows us to contribute to the economy. It’s time to change the immigration laws; it is not efficient for either party.“

Guilford students like Bonner sophomore Jose Oliva, an immigrant from Guatemala, have started programs tailored to fellow immigrant students. His program Roads to College is a college-access program for immigrants and refugees in Guilford County.

“Our state needs to stop playing games and do what’s right,” said Oliva. “We need to accept that we are changing, people are changing. Our school systems are failing on sending bright people to college.

“I have worked with a couple of valedictorians and salutatorians who were being denied the opportunity to go to college because they were undocumented. There seems to be something wrong there.”

 

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