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Immigrant Right's E-Newsletter for March and April 2012!

Immigrant Right's E-Newsletter for March and April 2012!

Photo: AFSC


AFSC North Carolina Immigrant Rights Program

March/April 2012 - E-NEWSLETTER:


The NC Immigrant Rights Program Monthly E-Newsletter serves as a vehicle for Quaker allies and recent immigrant/refugee constituents living in North Carolina to stay informed and involved with AFSC and immigrant rights-related actions in the state.

529-D College Road // Greensboro, NC 27410 // 336-854-0633.


Find us online: On the web:  // On Facebook:

Thanks to Victor Lopez, March/April 2012 e-newsletter editor!


1.       Upcoming Events
Join the annual NC Pilgrimage for Peace & Justice, 1-6 April, 2012, walking from Wilmington to Greenville, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Cary, and Raleigh. Contact Gail Phares for more info, 919-624-0646.

2.       Storyology 2012: Digital Storytelling by immigrants & refugees a huge success! 
View NEW short films by immigrants and refugees here:

3.       Breaking NewsImmigrants & Supporters Fill Wednesday’s NC House Committee on Immigration Hearing. Read blog post below and here.

4.       Three demonstrators arrested at February N.C. House immigration committee meetingDuring the February NC House Immigration Committee meeting in Raleigh, three undocumented students were arrested while declaring themselves “undocumented and unafraid.” See an LA Times article here.

5.       NC Farmworker Advocate, Melinda Wiggins, honored at White House Cesar Chavez Day event

Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers Director, and friend of AFSC, Melinda Wiggins was honored at as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change. Read more here.

6.       Hundreds Converge to Fight Foreclosure in Greensboro in AFSC co-sponsored event
Dozens of protesters marched from Washington Street to their final destination at The Carolina Theater, in Greensboro, NC on March 14. Article here. MSNBC Video here.

7.       Action Alert:

Sign petition from We Are NC, opposing anti-immigrant legislation in our state! Sign here.


1.        Upcoming events, including: z

  • Join the annual Pilgrimage for Peace & Justice, 1-6 April, 2012, walking from Wilmington to Greenville, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Cary, and Raleigh. Join us in supporting immigration reform, fair trade, and human rights for all. If you can participate, please contactKristen Wassil at our Raleigh office or Gail Phares, 919-624-0646.
  • Immigrant Solidarity Committee “The ISC-Charlotte” meeting is on the Thursday, April 19th  at the Charlotte Friends Meetinghouse located on 570 Rocky River Road West, Charlotte, NC 28213.  6pm Potluck supper and 6:30-8pm meeting.       
  • First Friends Immigration Subcommittee Tuesday, April 10th at 6:30pm at First Friends Meeting, located at 2100 W. Friendly Avenue in Greensboro, NC.


2.        Storyology 2012 a huge success! View short films by immigrants and refugees

Budding immigrant filmmakers debuted their 3-minute masterpieces to a standing room only crowd at International House Charlotte on Friday, March 16, 2012.  A story of treacherous journeys across the sea and prison escapes mingled with personal stories of a marriage broken by abuse, a student’s journey from a refugee camp to a Charlotte school, and an account of how a family got its start in the United States. Each story was different, but each painted a picture of the external and internal struggles faced by immigrants in North Carolina today.

The second Storyology: Digital Storytelling by Immigrants and Refugees class brought together six immigrants and refugees from Eritrea, Mexico, Bhutan, Colombia and Ecuador for three weekends of participatory workshops on storytelling, audio and video editing and community building. A seventh student, unfortunately, had to drop out of the class after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The class utilized interactive storytelling techniques, laptop computers, photographs, oral histories, digital cameras and music, sharing skills with the new documentarians that last a lifetime.

Storyology is unique in that it empowers immigrants to tell their own stories in their own words. As one student expressed, “I got an opportunity to share my own story and my own feelings. I got more experience by sharing my story, how I live in my country, how I deal with my hindrances.  And I like to collaborate with my friends, and [get to] know their story too, my international friends, Mexican friends, African friends. I learned their stories , their own feelings,  their experiences…I really appreciate this class; I am really joyful… I love this class!” Another student reported that “I did learn how to make a video, but most important, I learned about other cultures and people. My expectations were exceeded!”

Volunteer Martin Doherty expressed that the class gave him “a profound opportunity to recognize my values as an American and move forward the quality of every human life… I’m honored to be helping other people tell their stories so more respect and more care is given to human beings around the world.”

The class was sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and International House Charlotte, with funding provided by the Charlotte Arts & Science Council.  You can view videos produced in the class

-Lori Fernald Khamala


3.         Breaking News: Immigrants & Supporters Fill Wednesday’s NC House Committee on Immigration Hearing

View video from The Progressive Post Blog. Read story and view video from WRAL News.

WE are the Future

March 28,2012, Raleigh, NC.  We arrived more than an hour in advance to put our names down, hoping later to be chosen to speak to the NC House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy. As our Greensboro AFSC contingent joined the snaking queue waiting for the speaker sign-up to begin, there was a stark contrast between different parts of the line. One section of the line displayed hardened, bitter, angry white faces of an older generation. Another section of the line was peppered with faces of all shades and all ages, diverse, vibrant, excited and hopeful. These faces were smiling, despite the challenges ahead, and they joked with each other and enjoyed the company of friends old and new, all ready to take a stand for fairness for immigrants in our state. As one person pointed out, we were looking at North Carolina’s past on one side, and our future on the other.

We packed the room of the hearing. The NC House Select Committee is made up mostly of legislators who have a decidedly anti-immigrant agenda. Many of them were co-sponsors of bills last year that sought to question children in schools about their legal status, regulate which IDs local law enforcement agencies accept (targeting Durham’s Police Department which officially accepts a Mexican ID card to simply identify individuals), deny even more services to immigrant residents, and require electronic verification of employment eligibility.  We fear that the Committee plans to propose “show me your papers” style legislation similar to that which passed in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, which would be disastrous to North Carolina’s economy and sense of fairness.  The Committee has been less than transparent with meeting materials and agendas, and yesterday’s meeting was the first time any immigrant had been given the chance to speak, or that public comments were accepted.

The past/future contrast was on display throughout the hearing.  And to me, this is ironic, because undocumented immigrants and people of color themselves have so many reasons to be hardened and bitter. The inability of undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses turns every trip to work, school or the store into a potential minefield; a routine traffic stop could lead to detention, deportation and family separation. Young people who have grown up in the United States and attended school their entire academic lives –paid for by taxes that they and their families pay—now find themselves at a dead end as higher education remains out of reach. With no way to regularize their status in this broken immigration system and no federal legalization program in sight, hardworking immigrants with decades of investment in this country are at the mercy of an enforcement-only policy.

But instead of bitterness and resignation in the voices of all the young people who spoke, we heard an optimism, a commitment to keep moving forward and a determination to succeed despite the odds. We heard stories of immigrants themselves, for the first time since the start of this Committee. We heard speaker after speaker from the faith community describe the Biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and treat immigrants fairly. We heard immigration attorneys talk about how broken the immigration system is and what a myth it is to tell undocumented immigrants to just “get in line.” We heard a business owner share that her best employee in 35 years was an undocumented immigrant, and how frustrating it was that she could do nothing to change his status.   Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry beautifully quoted the Langston Hughes poem “I, too, sing America,” hammering home the point that we are all equals.

We also heard less encouraging words. We heard individuals on the other side of the issue talk about the “illegal invasion” and insist on calling undocumented immigrants “alien,” claiming they weren’t good enough to be called “immigrant”. We heard that everything undocumented immigrants do is “stealing”, from jobs to services to school placement.

But those voices were in the minority.  The 34 speakers chosen at random favored immigration reform and opposed anti-immigrant legislation at a rate of nearly three to one.  Immigrant supporters of all backgrounds wore t-shirts with the message “Do I look undocumented?” underscoring the point that you cannot identify someone’s legal status by looking at them. When supporters were asked not to applaud speakers, they utilized the Quaker / Sign Language applause of waving fingers above their heads, until this, too, became distracting for the representatives.  The shirts, the finger waves, the poetry, the presence of so many young people all created a beautiful and spirited movement in the normally drab legislative halls.

The speakers yesterday made it clear that we in North Carolina have a choice- move backward or move forward.  (And, as one speaker put it, since when does North Carolina aspire to be like South Carolina?)  There is virulent hostility and downright hatred towards our immigrant brothers and sisters, and this opposition will not stop.  But looking at the crowd, I think it’s obvious which way we are going.  We are going with youthful energy and optimism over tired old negative arguments, hopes and dreams over hate and bitterness. We’re going towards our beautiful and colorful and courageous future.


I, too, sing America. // I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes, / But I laugh, / And eat well, / And grow strong.  //  Tomorrow, / I’ll be at the table / When company comes. / Nobody’ll dare / Say to me, / “Eat in the kitchen,” /Then.  // Besides, / They’ll see how beautiful I am /

And be ashamed— // I, too, am America.

--Lori Fernald Khamala


4. Three demonstrators arrested at February’s N.C. House immigration committee meeting:

Los Angeles Times Article on Recent Detention of NC Dreamer

Update: Uriel is now out on bond.

March 13, 2012

By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times Reporter

 Reporting from Durham, N.C.— 

Two weeks ago, Uriel Alberto interrupted a state legislative hearing in North Carolina and declared himself an undocumented immigrant.

 "I am undocumented and I am unafraid," Alberto, 24, told a North Carolina House of Representatives immigration committee in Raleigh. "I refuse to be bullied and intimidated by this committee and choose to empower my community."

 Now, thanks to an online petition campaign, Alberto is a rallying point for supporters of the Dream Act, which would give permanent resident status to undocumented students brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. Supporters have launched a Facebook page, a Twitter hashtag (#FreeUriel) and online petitions; they've also staged rallies outside the jail, the News and Observer of Raleigh reported Monday.

 Read full article at its source:  


5.       NC Farmworker Advocate honored at White House Cesar Chavez Day event

Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers Director Melinda Wiggins was honored today at the White House as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change

Farmworker advocate and friend of AFSC Melinda Wiggins was honored today, March 29, in Washington alongside nine other leaders who, like Cesar Chavez, have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others throughout their community and across the Nation.  One of our Nation’s great civil rights leaders, Cesar Estrada Chavez came of age as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the injustice that pervaded fields and vineyards across California.  Yet amidst hardship and abuse, Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change—the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose.

For over 15 years, Melinda Wiggins has served as the Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), a nonprofit whose mission is to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change. Before that time, she coordinated SAF’s summer internship program and was a SAF intern with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry.

Melinda has taken the lead in creating and developing two key statewide immigrant and farmworker coalitions: The Adelante Education Coalition and the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN). She has brought her core values of transparency, accountability and profound systemic change to these coalitions, and as a result SAF has a very strong network of individual and organizational allies from around the state. Melinda is also active with several other social justice groups such as Zomppa and the Windcall Residency Program.  From Latina Bloggers Connect.

Read Melinda's article about her work with SAF, which will soon be featured on the Champions of Change site.

This week (March 25-31) is national Farmworker Awareness Week, a national week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues. Learn more at or visit SAF on Facebook. 


  • Farmworkers feed the world- 85% of our fruits and vegetables are handpicked. We demand dignity for farmworkers!
  • Farm work is the third most dangerous job in the United States.  We demand safe working conditions for farmworkers!
  • Farmworkers are treated differently under the law. We demand just living and working conditions for farmworkers and an end to unfair treatment under the law.


 6.       Hundreds Converge to talk about Foreclosures in Greensboro!

Recently AFSC intern covered an event sponsored, in part, by AFSC—which spoke to the growing foreclosure crisis in Greensboro. Subsequently, MSNBC covered the event. AFSC continues to support the Occupy Movement, which is still very much alive.

By Victor Lopez, Intern - AFSC Office of the Carolinas

GREENSBORO, NC - March 14--Drum beats and chanting filled the air as dozens of protesters marched from Washington Street to their final destination at The Carolina Theater, in Greensboro, NC on March 14, 2012.

There they converged with an eager crowd of supporters to celebrate the premier of a locally produced short film, “Let’s Lose Our House:  A Modern Foreclosure Tale.”

The film was an “engaging” and informative treatment of a very complex and “disastrous” foreclosure problems of affecting our communities, according to the events organizers.

Read the full story:

Featured on the MSNBC Rached Maddow show


7. Take Immediate Action and Sign Petition Online!

 Sign online here

Yes! We Stand with Immigrants in NC!

If you agree with the message below, please sign up and join us.

We'll work together to keep an eye on the North Carolina General Assembly, and make sure that our elected leaders are responsive to our message.

We, the undersigned, are proud to call North Carolina home. Many of us are immigrants, and the children and grandchildren of immigrants. We are the friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers and classmates of immigrants and refugees. All of us, regardless of where we were born, affirm the dignity and the rights of all people in North Carolina. 

We oppose the efforts of the current State Legislature to enact immigration policies that lead to discrimination, criminalization, racial profiling, hate and economic exploitation. We oppose policies like 287(g) and the so-called ”Secure Communities” program that separate families, deny due process and equal opportunity, and divide our communities along lines of national origin, immigration status, language, skin color, religion and culture. Such policies are a direct attack on immigrant communities, but they also erode the rights of all workers and result in the harassment of people of color, both immigrant and U.S.-born. 

We have seen the negative consequences of anti-immigrant legislation in places like Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. In those states, the economy has deteriorated, lawsuits have been filed, and people are being treated in ways that concern us greatly. Children are afraid to go to school; farmers and workers are losing their livelihoods as food lies rotting in the fields; citizens and immigrants alike are being wrongfully arrested. 

As concerned North Carolinians, we ask Members of the House Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy, and all Members of the North Carolina General Assembly, to heed the call of reason and fairness. Stop the dehumanization of immigrants in our community. Enough is enough. Immigrants want the same things as the rest of the people in NC: a roof over their heads, an education for their children, a steady job, and to live free of harassment and discrimination. Legislators should stop dividing our communities and instead, work for policies that unite us and make us stronger. 

Immigrants and refugees in North Carolina contribute positively to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our cities, towns, state, and nation. In the coming months, there will be many opportunities to build bridges and to work toward reasonable and fair public policy decisions that create a stronger and healthier North Carolina -- the kind of state that we all need and deserve. Please join us. Sign the petition here or in Spanish here.