NC House Immigration Panel Hears From Employers

Lawmakers considering what North Carolina can do to clamp down on illegal immigration heard Wednesday from businesses that seek out cheap labor, and also got an earful from protesters who said they're in the country illegally.

Three of the demonstrators were arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said.

The state House committee's meeting was disrupted near its end by a handful of young Hispanics who wearing T-shirts saying "Undocumented and Unafraid." They shouted their opposition after Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, decried illegal immigrants as the source of drug and gun crime.

Three were arrested for and were to be charged with disorderly conduct, General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said.

Viridiana Martinez, 25, of Raleigh said she's lived illegally in North Carolina since her parents brought her to the state at age 7. She noted that the 12-member House Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy is stocked with some of the chamber's most ardent backers of state action to crack down on illegal immigrants. "That says to me that these folks are out to come after us. They're going to do whatever it takes to make the situation as terrible as possible right here in our home to make us leave" said Martinez, a freelance interpreter. "We're not going to remain quiet about it."

Charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct were Uriel Alberto, 24, of Winston-Salem; Estephania Mijangos-Lopez, 20, of Sanford; and Cynthia Martinez, 21, of Broadway, Weaver said.

They were booked at the Wake County Jail, which has officers authorized to check immigration status and turn over non-U.S. citizens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A jail spokesman did not return a call seeking comment on whether the three would be turned over to ICE for possible deportation.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates North Carolina ranks ninth in population among the states with what it calls 325,000 unauthorized immigrants, defined as foreign-born citizens of other countries who aren't legal immigrants.

The committee also heard from representatives of the home building, construction and farming industries. North Carolina Home Builders Association lobbyist Lisa Martin said her group supported Congress, not states, addressing immigration. While government should back training and retraining programs for the construction trades, "the homebuilding industry needs a strong and ready workforce," she said.

The testimony signaled the balancing act facing lawmakers who aim to discourage illegal immigrants.

Farmers in Georgia and Alabama have reported labor shortages because migrant workers quite showing up for field work since tough immigration enforcement provisions were adopted in those states last year. Some farmers said ahead of this year's growing season that they might reduce the number of acres they plant, shift to less labor-intensive crops, or accept higher labor prices.

Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, asked why even with the unemployment rate high he sees so many Hispanic faces on construction sites. "You would think that with all the high unemployment there's a large pool of people the contractors could draw from. I'm wondering what is it that makes Hispanic workers drawn to this trade?" asked Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell. "That seems to be a constant. It hasn't changed even though there are more unemployed white people out there."

Martin said she didn't know, but added that her Italian ancestors were stone masons before they immigrated to the U.S. a century ago, so more recent immigrants might also come with skills used in construction.

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  • by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 10:21 AM
    So let me get this right. Illegals can stand on the steps of our legal buildings and brag about being here illegally but the government still expects us (actual citizens) to respect and obey the laws while they encourage illegal activity and even sue states that try to fight it? Nobody else finds this insane?
    • reply
      by REM on Mar 1, 2012 at 01:12 PM in reply to
      Logical, moral, and otherwise decent human beings will find it insane.
  • by Lee Location: Washington on Mar 1, 2012 at 09:09 AM
    Lets not forget, the felonies that are committed every day by illegals. Providing false info for benefits is fraud, False paperwork belonging to someone else SSN number ID, All felonies. When are people going to realize that this is an invasion from another country. They need ho As far as someone who claims it is not their job to police their employees. Hay before I got the job I work at, I had to provide SSN Drivers license, Proof of where I live, (no PO boxes allowed) and pee in a cup. With all the lawyers we send to Washington they can't figure out all the laws that are being broken.
  • by taxman Location: wilson on Mar 1, 2012 at 08:11 AM
    Labor is treated as a commodity; it has a cost and if the owner of a business or property who requires labor does not want to pay the price,they will seek other employees to fill the needs of their business,i.e. illegal. Large industrial employers,i.e.corporations, will pay lobbysists and politicians to "legalize" this labor pool and provide the businesses with a supply of cheap,underpaid and "illegal" employees who are made temporarily "legal" by the politicians. As a result,the corporate profit goes up,American citizens lose jobs and the standard of living in this country goes down. All this is of course supported and condoned by Judeo-Christian ethics and organized religions which then make huge amounts of money off of "tax free" income and much hot air. Basically, the problem is created and supported by free wheeling,laissez faire capitalists and much of organized religion who espouse the principle of: "Socializing the risk and privatizing the profit." Cases in point : Slavery as practiced in America for many years, the development of Jim Crow laws and efforts including use of armed troops and police against demonstrators seeking fair labor treatment. This anti-labor stance is currently enabled and in many cases supported by governments by refusing to enforce existing labor and fair wage and the resulting illegal immigration.
  • by obamanot on Mar 1, 2012 at 07:39 AM
    If any action is about to be taken,you can count on pinnochiobama stepping in and suing this state.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:20 AM
    The biggest problem is not illegal aliens. It is the laziness of American workers and the government entitlement programs that support the laziness. If people would work, the illegals would not be here because there would be no jobs. Everyone wants to blame the illegals when they need to look in the mirror to see the real problem. Almost no one applies unless they are looking to extend their unemployment benefits. Get rid of all the "forever" unemployment and other entitlements and the problem will go away.
    • reply
      by legal worker on Mar 1, 2012 at 08:43 AM in reply to
      That's right. If they couldn't get a job, they wouldn't come. Many of them disappeared right after the recession hit because they couldn't get work. If they didn't work so cheaply, they wouldn't get hired. I know a couple of people who vote straight Rep. tickets who have illegal ladies cleaning their houses because they "feel sorry for them". And while I referred to "Mexicans" in a former post, that was an ill-used, collective term. According to the Department of Homeland Security, only 54% of illegal aliens are from Mexico.
      • reply
        by wow on Mar 2, 2012 at 05:02 PM in reply to legal worker
        I have to agree with both statements.
  • by will work Location: greenville on Mar 1, 2012 at 04:42 AM
    The rich get rich off the back of the poor. North Carolina has a problem. Right to work does not mean you can get a chance to work. I have applied to jobs in the construction and farming industry and never hear form anyone. I show up asking about jobs and get looks of discuss. However manufactering jobs are no better, company just want to pay minimum wage with no hope of advancement, and work a person till they quit. Over time making minimum wage just does not cut it for the long term, but it is a start and i will take it if opertunity for advancement is there.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:18 AM in reply to will work
      I know how you feel. I am a soon-to-be senior citizen who is unemployed for the first time in 18 years. I have looked high and low for another job. I can not do just anything due to a physical limitation but can definately work and desperately want to. Unfortunately unemployment is high in the county I live in. I recently applied to two jobs but never heard back. I went there and BOTH jobs were given to Hispanic people younger than I am. I miss the days when American citizens had more rights than illegal law breaking immigrants. Yes, by definition illegal = law breakers = criminals.
  • by legal worker on Mar 1, 2012 at 04:38 AM
    When you see these illegals, where do you usually see them? While they are working. If the farmers, landscapers and construction businesses didn't hire them, there wouldn't be near as many. Arrest and deport the illegals when you find them, and arrest the people who are paying them - 30 days in jail per illegal employee they have working for them. When Farmer Smith and Bob the Builder find out they have to do time for hiring illegals, he may decide to pay US workers a decent wage.
    • reply
      by Recently Unemployed Citizen on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:09 AM in reply to legal worker
      Sometimes it is hard for an employer to know who is illegal. We have hired a few but did not know it at the time because they had a driver's license,and SS card. That is all that is required to hire someone. I am waiting for the IRS to come to my door to tell me I did not report income made in Arizona. And I have never been to Arizona!
      • reply
        by legal worker on Mar 1, 2012 at 07:55 AM in reply to Recently Unemployed Citizen
        It is hard, but is the employer's responsibility if they want to stay legal themselves.
    • reply
      by nightrain on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:13 AM in reply to legal worker
      I agree with you a 100%. Of course, if farmers have to pay for U.S. workers, an ear of corn will cost $5.00. Watermelons will be $20.00 etc. We have really screwed up the system so bad.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:30 AM in reply to legal worker
      Are you really this naive? What difference does it make if the farmer pays $20 an hour if food goes up by the same amount? What difference does it make if the construction job pays $25/hr if the house cost 30% more? Everyone wants cheap this and cheap that, but then they want $50 an hour. It does not work that way. The more companies and small business has to pay for labor the more the products will cost. I for one would pay everyone $25 an hour if I could find someone to pay enough for the products to support that rate. However, I'd go out of business because everyone would by the cheaper product before mine.
      • reply
        by legal worker on Mar 1, 2012 at 07:54 AM in reply to
        Nope. Prices wil go up. Just making a point. Everybody want to have their cheap cake and eat it too. The people screaming the loudest to deport all the Mexicans will be screaming louder when they have to pay more for their apples. If they all disappeared overnight, who is going to be digging all your taters then? Either you are going to live with them and stop griping, or get rid of them, pay more and get over it. People who hire and pay illegals are no better than the illegals sneaking over.
    • reply
      by 250 on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:49 AM in reply to legal worker
      Yeah! What he said! I like it. Wish I got it out there first. LOL
      • reply
        by legal worker on Mar 1, 2012 at 07:43 AM in reply to 250
        Well you can't have both. Looks like you have to choose. Sounds like you're softening up on the illegals already.
  • by ayon. Location: OBX on Mar 1, 2012 at 04:04 AM
    From the boat shops to the framing crews,Dare County has bent over to accomodate the illegal workers,yet all the LEO's act like it's not their job to enforce,including the federal LEO's,of which we have many.Just like the inland countys,drug involvement has become increasingly hispanic.Send them back where they came from,now!!!!!
  • by Lee Location: Washington on Feb 29, 2012 at 07:22 PM
    Please list the names of the business that feel that supporting US jobs for US citizens is such a bad thing. The bottom line is money. They want all the money for themselves. I bet they have never served for this country, but the first to try to get something for free, These cancerous places need to be exposed for what they are. And we the taxpayer should be told their names. They are selling this country that I love so much out. And crawl back in their hole and shake til the coast is clear when anything close to exposing them mentioned. They are the lowest form of traitors you can find.
  • by Jason Location: Winterville on Feb 29, 2012 at 07:15 PM
    If all criminals walked around wearing shirts that said I broke the law, things would be so much easier. People get arrested all the time for breaking and entering. Isn't that what illegal immigration really is. I'm not going to suggest giant raids to pack up all the illegal immigrants, but if they are dumb enough to flaunt it, send them packing. Hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants are allowed in the country every year. It costs money and takes time, but it is safer than paying money to a coyote and crossing illegally and having to always be looking over your shoulder.
    • reply
      by REM on Mar 1, 2012 at 05:01 AM in reply to Jason
      Entering a sovereign illegally is much more serious than a lawful citizen committing a crime... or well it used to be; until we turned a blind eye and allowed 40 million baby making, welfare recipient machines to invade our soil. I shudder at the though of how much money has been sent out of this country since the past decades of illegal traffic.
      • reply
        by K on Mar 1, 2012 at 08:53 AM in reply to REM
        I'd rather keep some illegal immigrants and ship off our thugs...can we do that instead?!?!
        • reply
          by REM on Mar 1, 2012 at 09:45 AM in reply to K
          Why can't we do both? Do you really think that people who brake a very serious law right from the beginning are going to be outstanding citizens? Some, maybe. Not most. I'm tired of seeing illegals use EBT cards, wic checks, social security benefits, and WADS of cash to pay for everything else. Must be nice to pay nothing but sales tax while reaping a crap load of social benefits...
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