Latin American Coalition

Michael Tomsic

The number of immigrants becoming American citizens is on the rise. In Charlotte and across the country, applications for citizenship have spiked as the election approaches, according to federal data. That’s not unusual in presidential election years. But in North Carolina, the increases are in fact the continuation of a trend that started five years ago. WFAE’s Michael Tomsic explores what’s driving more immigrants to become Americans.

Tom Bullock / WFAE News

The crowd, at first, was eager. Members of Charlotte’s Hispanic community gathered Thursday night to watch President Obama announce changes in the enforcement to America’s immigration laws. As for the mood after the speech? That varied from person to person.

To say the room at the Latin American Coalition was packed is an understatement. Around 75 people poured in. Those who could, sat in chairs, others stood where they could or sat on the floor near the screen where the president’s speech would be projected.

Since October, an estimated 57,000 unaccompanied minors have entered the country. The Border Patrol estimates that number could reach 90,000 by the end of September, although the number of daily arrivals is starting to slow.

As debate continues in Washington over how to deal with this surge, the Latin American Coalition is busy making plans to help kids they expect to eventually end up in the Charlotte area.

WFAE’s Marshall Terry spoke to the Coalition’s Armando Bellmas. Here's their conversation.

Michael Tomsic

"A good first step." That's how some North Carolina immigration advocates and business leaders are describing the immigration overhaul filed in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.


Michael Tomsic

Hundreds of people marched two miles through Charlotte Wednesday to voice their support for immigration reform. The Latin American Coalition helped organize and lead the march.


Michael Tomsic

About 100 immigrants in Charlotte took a big step toward becoming U.S. citizens Sunday. They’re all legal residents. And as part of a national campaign, three local groups teamed up at UNC Charlotte to help them apply for citizenship.

The main thing that’s kept Hing Fu and his family from trying to become U.S. citizens is the cost.

"We are below the poverty line at the moment," Fu said.

He's a senior at UNC Charlotte. He and his mom emigrated from Hong Kong more than a decade ago, and his stepdad is from Mexico.

Michael Tomsic

In Charlotte, the Latin American Coalition is aiming to put its mark on the policies that follow the election. That's after Latino voters played a key role in reelecting President Obama, accounting for about one out of every 10 ballots cast nationwide and voting overwhelmingly for the president.

Mary Espinosa is a U.S. citizen, but some of her family members are not. That was the biggest thing on the 18-year-old’s mind as she walked into the polls this year to vote for the first time.