Our April issue included a feature on the crisis illegal immigration is causing locally. Officials say there are about 58,000 illegal immigrants in Charlotte, and we wanted to know what they’re doing about it, but we wanted to look at the problem, too, from the other side. We wanted to get an idea of what it’s like to be an illegal immigrant in Charlotte, and a young woman we called Ana told us. She lives her life here in fear, but she also says she can’t move, because she has to support her young son and sick mother—and she says that if you were her, born in a country with little work opportunity and responsible for your family’s survival, you’d be doing the same thing.
Well, a measure of hope just arrived for Ana, not to mention the millions of other illegal immigrants in this country, when the Bush administration revealed a surprising agreement proposing amnesty to all of them. U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick has called the sweeping amnesty a “slap in the face” to those legally awaiting citizenship, but what the proposed bill is really centered on is big business. Employers have become a major force in the country’s debate on the topic, due to widespread labor shortages they say could cripple companies if they were to lose their immigrant workers, and the fact that tougher border laws could dissuade new immigrants from coming to the country in search of jobs. The proposed bill would address both concerns by saving the jobs of illegal immigrants currently working here, and also by revamping the way the government evaluates perspective immigrants: job skills and education, under this agreement, would be valued above other considerations, such as family ties.
The Senate began debating the controversial proposal this week, and we’d love to hear what you think about it. After all, North Carolina has one of the fastest growing illegal immigrant populations in the country, and the majority of them live and work right here in