Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What they won't be debating in North Carolina

For the first time in 30 years, national attention will be shifting to the North Carolina primaries. Both Democratic candidates will be talking about the economy and even such rare topics as job training. But we will hear hardly a whisper about the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic immigrant workers and their families that live in the state.

Better to keep that issue hidden, at least for now. In the meantime, the growing Hispanic population will continue to kick in an estimated $9 billion a year to the state economy. In addition to spending, Hispanics "contribute immensely to the state's economic output according to the report by John D. Kasarda and James H. Johnson of the Kenan Institute. But immigration policy is a hot potato that needs to remain undercover in a political season.

The NC Sheriff's Association takes a more direct approach. Eager to grab coveted federal ICE funding, the Association recently sent a letter to legislators urging them to "take whatever steps are necessary to address the invasion of illegal aliens into North Carolina."

Last week I talked to a couple of Hispanic men at my church. We commiserated a bit and they told me that they were thinking about moving on. Because they lack a social security number they are now unable to renew their driver's licenses and they are worried about getting pulled over and deported by local police officers. Others that have families and children in schools are trying to stay put and avoid leaving the house. U.S. immigration policy has hit some low notes in history, and this is a particularly hard moment for many in the unseen labor force.

1 comment:

Bob Giloth said...

Unfortunately, important issues like immigration reform are not being discussed in the seemingly endless campaigns while children and families are punished