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By Maria Alejo

Here in North Carolina, undocumented students like me have to pay almost FOUR times as much in tuition costs to attend a community college. My state acknowledges me as a resident when it comes to paying taxes; I have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service that I use to file my taxes. Yet, as I apply for the upcoming fall semester at Vance-Granville Community College, I’m told I have to pay out-of-state tuition for the classes I need to take. Which is it, NC? Am I a resident or not?

Image by J. Valas

My name is Cynthia Martinez. That’s me in the picture above at my first rally ever. And it was the first time I “came out” too. For the first time ever, I shouted out my immigration status. ”My name is Cynthia Martinez and I am Undocumented and I am no longer afraid!” I had chosen to come out of the shadows and leave my comfort zone. I had chosen to take a stand. Along with seven other undocumented young people from across North Carolina, I sat down at an intersection in Charlotte. We refused to stand up. We were then arrested and semi-processed. I say semi-processed because immigration officials processed us but later “dropped our immigration charges”. And they did so because they felt pressured by the publicity that followed this action. ICE is afraid when you and me come together and take a stand. It’s time more of us took a stand too! 

Image by Justin Valas

I live in Sanford, North Carolina. Here, because my family and I are Hispanic, we are constantly targeted by local law enforcement. I grew up in Sanford since the age of two and given so, I think it’s safe to say that I consider this my home and community.

I am fully aware of the different laws and regulations that are established to keep me and my community in the shadows. Such programs include the Secure Communities policy (active in all 100 counties in North Carolina) and the community colleges admissions policy, which includes Central Carolina Community College right here in Sanford. Not being able to obtain a drivers license to drive legally is one among many more but right now it seems to be the biggest upset within my community.

Here in Lee County, the 287(g) program has not been implemented but something just as bad has occurred. We have become apathetic to the idea that running into road blocks is normal and getting a ticket is just part of it. We haven’t stopped to realize that maybe programs such as 287(g) haven’t been established here not because we are actually “liked” but because we contribute by paying ticket after ticket after ticket and in cases paying lawyers to handle traffic infractions, most due to driving without a license or an expired license. How much money hasn’t gone to the growth of Sanford obtained from inconvenient fees such as these traffic tickets? And the police are strategic about where they station themselves when they set up these license check points. There’s often one near my house where many Hispanic people live! Looks like racial-profiling to me.

Image by Justin Valas

Well it’s time that Sanford wake up to the injustices that surround our community where on top of paying federal, state, and local taxes we are still forced to pay for a ridiculous amount of tickets that we wouldn’t have to pay if we were able to obtain a license. Yet after all of this we are still told that we have to pay out of state tuition to go to the community college here in town. Does this make any sense? That while we contribute to our community, our local and state governments implement these harsh laws and policies? This is not right, it is not just.

We came to this country searching for a better future, for the right as human beings to go to school, to drive, to walk freely in our towns that we contribute to with every paycheck yet we hit a wall when we try to practice these rights. It is time that we as a community start standing up for our rights. This is a problem that affects us all for everyone once lived it. Whether it was pilgrims who came to this land fleeing religious persecution, the Native Americans who were killed by those pilgrims that were once persecuted, African Americans who were enslaved and in many ways still are, Asians who were sent to concentration camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, people from the Middle East who were targeted after 9-11 and Latinos who are racially profiled among other things every day. Everyone has lived it. Will you sit and watch as injustices keep happening or will you stand and take action as I have? The choice is yours.

Photo via Charlotte Observer

UNDOCUMENTED YOUTH DROP THE FEAR IN NORTH CAROLINA

PRESS CONFERENCE ALERT

For Immediate Release
Contacts:
Domenic Powell (704) 281 - 9911
Jose Torres-Don (512) 659-1829

The NC DREAM Team will hold a press conference today in Charlotte

When: Thurs., Sept. 8, 2011 at 12:30pm
Where: Mecklenburg County Courthouse
832 East 4th Street, Charlotte, NC

We invite the immigrant community and the community of North Carolina to join us  today. Three of the #NC7  undocumented youth arrested at the immigrant rights rally Tuesday have been released. They will speak directly about their experiences.  Please spread the word and join us.

And please help us take action in stopping “Secure Communities” throughout our country. Sign our petition here and spread the word.

**UPDATE** See full release below.

Contact:
Domenic Powell (704) 281 - 9911
Jose Torres-Don (512) 659-1829
domenic@theniya.org

Three of ten undocumented youth released, will hold press conference today
ICE begins deportation proceedings, futures remain unclear

CHARLOTTE—Three of the ten undocumented youth arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina this Tuesday for protesting against both the discriminatory practices at public colleges in North Carolina and the devastating effects of 287g and Secure Communities have been released.

Santiago Garcia, Martin Rodriguez and Manuel Vazquez were released late last night. The other four participants, Cynthia Martinez, Marco Saavedra, Alicia Torres-Don and Angelica Velazquillo will appear in court at 1PM today. The other three undocumented activists who were arrested, Mohammad Abdollahi, Isabel Castillo and Viridiana Martinez also remain in jail.

By releasing three of the ten undocumented arrested at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, undocumented youth have proven that they can stand up to an administration eager to deport them.

“We stood up for what we believe in,” said Manuel Vazquez. “But more importantly, we stood up for ourselves and our communities.”

The action marked exactly one year before the Democratic National Convention. Until this point, Democrats have been the assumed allies of immigrants, in the face of Republican governors supporting anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s SB1070. However, anti-immigrant policies such as 287(g) and Secure Communities have flourished under this Democratic president. Undocumented youth should not be expected to support a president who has deported more people than President Eisenhower during Operation Wetback.

Garcia was issued an Alien Number and issued paperwork stating that he was going to be transferred to Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Several other participants were issued Alien Numbers or placed in immigration holds. The future of their deportation cases is unclear. However, this action shows that the Obama Administration either still actively deports undocumented youth or has absolutely no control of its local offices.

“I thought I was on my way to Georgia,” said Garcia. “I sat in jail for hours not knowing when and if I would see my family soon.

The seven participants are now calling upon undocumented youth across the country to harness the power of being public about their status and challenge this administration’s 287(g) and Secure Communities programs. A press conference will be held today at 12:30PM in front of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, where the three released participants will discuss the protest, their time in jail and their plans for the immediate future.

###

WHO: Manuel Vasquez, 21, of Raleigh
Martin Rodriguez, 20, of Hamptonville
Santiago Garcia, 20, of Asheville
WHAT: Participants in the civil disobedience action at Central Piedmont Community College, three of whom have been released, call on undocumented youth to shed their fears and commit t holding Democratic party leaders accountable for the injustices they perpetuate against immigrant communities.
WHERE: Mecklenburg County Courthouse; 832 East 4th Street, Charlotte, NC
WHEN: Thurs. September 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm.

We need to you sign this petition against North Carolina’s HB11, which would ban undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities in North Carolina. Amazingly, it wouldn’t stop taking their tax money that helps pay for public services. You can also call NC Speaker Thom Tillis at 919-733-3451 or toll free at 800-567-2285.

Georgia needs you to sign this petition against HB59, a bill that would do the same in that state.

Yesterday, Virginia won its battle to keep the school doors open. So can we.

Representative George Cleveland (R – Onslow) has introduced HB 11, a bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges. The NC DREAM Team is asking for opponents of this bill to call Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) and urge him to prevent the bill from making it to the House floor (call 919-733-3451).

Yesterday a member of the NC DREAM Team sent an e-mail expressing their disappointment in the legislation. “It is saddening that one of our state’s representatives would go out of their way to deny a segment of our state’s population the right to educate and better themselves,” said Ian Smith-Overman, the member who sent the e-mail. “I believe your decision to sponsor this bill is short-sighted at best and vindictive at its worst.”

Rep. Cleveland responded within five hours. “I find it revolting that an American thinks that we should financially support people that cannot legally work in this country through taxpayer subsidized education,” he said. “If you feel so strongly about this issue find an illegal and pay for their education at a private university.”

The response from Rep. Cleveland demonstrates that he is not aware that the North Carolina Department of Revenue collects income tax from undocumented immigrants using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, which have been issued by the Internal Revenue Service since 1996. The NC DREAM Team believes that undocumented immigrants not only have a right to attend public post-secondary education in North Carolina, but should also only pay in-state tuition as tax-paying state residents.

While the North Carolina economy depends heavily on immigrant labor, particularly in the agriculture and meat-processing industries, the state has continued to march toward policies that harass the communities working in those industries or prohibit their economic advancement through education. In the past ten years, agreements between immigration officials and local police departments that expand police power such as 287(g) and Secure Communities have continued to proliferate across the state; drivers’ licenses are no longer issued to immigrants without visas; and undocumented youth who most often had no say in their migration to North Carolina as minors are forced to pay out-of-state tuition and register last in community colleges.

Yesterday we demonstrated our vigilance for education rights in front of the NC Legislature. The legislature has answered by following South Carolina and Georgia and proposing to ban undocumented youth from community colleges and universities. The new legislature is wasting no time in showing that recreating a two-tiered society in America is one of its top priorities.

This is nothing short of segregation. This state collects tax revenue from undocumented immigrants using ITINs issued by the IRS, which gives them a material right to the seats in class they have paid for. But before that, they have a right to be educated as human beings.

Our state insists on using undocumented immigrant labor and taxing undocumented immigrant wages, but also claims that undocumented immigrant youth cannot sit in the classroom.

Call House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) at 919-733-3451 and ask him why tax-paying, hard-working immigrant youth shouldn’t be allowed to go to college in North Carolina. Tell him you never want to see this bill make it to the floor.

919-733-3451

Donate & Subscribe

Donate here. Donations help us travel around the state and purchase materials for actions and events. You can also subscribe to our mailing list.

@NCDREAMTeam

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