On Saturday afternoon over 130 community members and SDSers marched and rallied against the recent I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid in Asheville, where 57 residents of Buncombe County were arrested.
UNCA SDS hosted the 2008 action camp in Asheville this weekend, which involves a series of workshop grappling with questions surrounding SDS and race, gender, class, sexuality, and other aspects of power and oppression. We were all excited to march in solidarity against the inhuman treatment of our neighborhood sisters and brothers.
The march began at the vance monument and weaved through downtown. Many community members joined in along the way. We chanted “If you want peace, raise up your fist! If you want justice, you must resist!” and “No raids, no ICE! We ain’t about to ask you twice!” The march concluded at Pritchard Park where people voiced their outrage concerning the racist federal policy that devastates families in our community.
Myths and Realities of Immigration
MYTH: Immigrants take jobs and opportunity away from Americans
REALITY: A recent national study found that in the last 15 years immigration did not hurt job opportunities for Americans. Most immigrant workers are concentrated in industries that are typically the most dangerous and lowest paying jobs. In NC, Duke University found “that since the mid-1990s, industrial sectors have been flagging largely because of…free trade measures passed by the US. Because of a combination of plant closings, cost-cutting, consolidation…, North Carolina lost 100,000 jobs in the textile industry and 70,000 more in the apparel industry.”
MYTH: Immigrants are breaking the law
REALITY: Entering the US without documents is a civil offense. Labeling immigrants as lawbreakers penalizes the individual rather than recognizing the larger economic and political forces at play. Each year, only 10,000 visas are available to low-skilled immigrant workers, while the market hires 450,000 low- skilled immigrant workers a year. Corporate and even local businesses benefit from this ready flow of undocumented, low-wage workers.
MYTH: Immigrants don’t pay taxes
REALITY: Immigrants pay taxes in the form of income, property, and sales taxes at the federal and state level. They pay the same real estate taxes and sales taxes as everyone else. The Social Security Administration has estimated that undocumented immigrants contribute $6-7 billion in SS funds that they will never be able to claim. In the Asheville area they spent $214.5 million in 2004, thus creating 2300 jobs.
MYTH: Immigrants come here to take welfare
REALITY: Immigrants come here to work and reunite with family members. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. One study found that immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay $90 billion in taxes, and use about $5 billion in community services.
MYTH: Immigrants don’t want to learn English
REALITY: The NC Community College System reported an enrollment of over 37,000 adult students in English as a Second Language courses in 2003, not including church and community classes. Research shows that within 10 years, 75% of adult immigrants will speak English well. Nationwide, demand for English classes exceeds the supply, while key adult education funding continues to be cut.
Information taken from: Justice for Immigrants—Learn the Issues, The Washington Post/Pew Study on Immigration, Duke University Markets & Management Studies Program & Center for Participatory Change