immigration

Still from Twitter Video by @ajcookcsa

Students at four CMS schools walked out of class Friday in support of area immigrants. South Mecklenburg High School dismissed classes early after several students say peaceful demonstrations got out of hand.  

Videos of South Meck's walkout posted on Twitter show hundreds of students outside. 

Junior Gletzy Alas helped organize South Meck's walkout. Her parents are immigrants from Honduras.

Several hundred South Mecklenburg High School students defied school faculty by walking out of class Friday morning, chanting and waving Mexican national flags and at times causing chaos according to students on social media.

Tom Bullock / WFAE

By noon, the crowds began to pour into uptown's Marshall Park. The local Spanish-language radio station, La Raza 106.1FM, supplied music as a line of volunteers hauled cases of water bottles into the park and procrastinators hastily scrawled last-minute messages onto sheets of poster board.  

Hundreds of families arrived with school-age children in tow, ignoring CMS officials who urged parents against doing so earlier in the week. One 15-year-old high school student, Ciera Medina, said she should have been at J.M. Robinson High School, but skipped with her four younger siblings.

Hundreds gathered at Marshall Park in uptown Charlotte Thursday for a pro-immigrant rally.
Tom Bullock / WFAE

Immigrant communities nationwide and in Charlotte staged “A Day Without Immigrants” Thursday. They’re protesting a wave of recent arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in the first major immigration crackdown by the new Trump administration.

Nick de la Canal/WFAE

More than 250 businesses in the Charlotte region will not open Thursday as part of a nationwide campaign called "A Day Without Immigrants," or "Dia Sin Inmigrantes," according to organizers and reports from the Spanish-language newspapers Que Pasa Mi Gente and Hola Noticias, which has kept a running tally on its Facebook page.

Manolo Betancur owns a bakery on Central Avenue. He spoke at Friday's event at the Government Center.
David Boraks / WFAE

Federal immigration agents have arrested more than 680 people nationwide since last week, including more than 100 in the Carolinas, in the Trump administration's first major crackdown on people in the country illegally.  U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly acknowledged the operations in a statement Monday, saying about three-quarters of those arrested were a threat to public safety.  But local immigration lawyers and immigrants say the new administration is sowing fear by casting a wider net.

Hector Vaca of Action NC speaks at a press conference by Latin American and African American leaders Friday at the Government Center.
David Boraks / WFAE

Federal officials say there's nothing new or different about how they've been arresting people for immigration violations in Charlotte this week. But the arrests raised fears in the city's Latin-American community. Many see it as part of a nationwide anti-immigrant campaign led by the White House.

About 20 Charlotte area residents, including immigrants, came together outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center to protest actions by ICE agents in recent days.
John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer

Charlotte city leaders released a statement Friday that put it plainly: "Regarding sanctuary cities, although there is no agreed upon legal definition of what a sanctuary city is, Charlotte is not one." In recent interviews, however, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has been offering a more nuanced view.

Commentary: My Family's Citizenship Stories

Feb 9, 2017

My mother told me her American citizenship ceremony took place in a high school auditorium. “Maybe two dozen of us became citizens,” she started off then changed her mind. “No probably more.” She mentioned how they served punch and cookies afterwards in the long hallway lined with lockers.

Advocates for refugees in North Carolina are expressing strong disapproval of  President Trump's executive order that temporarily bars many immigrants from entering the U.S.   "I find it to be an exceptionally unfortunate decision," said Marsha Hirsch, executive director of Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency in Charlotte. 

Hirsch added that the resettlement program has been in use for decades, with bipartisan support.  She says the program was intended to "remove people from peril" and give them a chance to rebuild their lives in the U.S.

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