They’re coming to America

North Carolina is a national leader in recent immigration, especially from Latin American countries—a fact with major implications for the state’s economy.

In the past decade, one in three new jobs was filled by a foreign-born worker, while a 2006 study by the University of North Carolina showed that immigrants—legal and otherwise—had an annual benefit of more than $9 billion to the state’s economy. Still, some aren’t happy with this turn of events: the domestic worker, for instance, who blames job loss on a newcomer, or the construction worker who complains of depressed wages.

A panel discussion hosted by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters will lend insight to this complex issue. Titled “The Economics of Immigration: Costs and Benefits,” the event takes place on Thursday, Nov. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 531 Haywood Road, in West Asheville.

The featured speaker is retired Mars Hill College professor and World Affairs Council of WNC Chair Jim Lenburg, who will provide background. A panel discussion will follow with Bert Lemkes, immigrant and General Manager of Van Wingerden International, Inc.; Eric Gorny, a local independent construction worker; Dr. Steve Swearingen, Medical Director for the Buncombe County Health Center; Geneva Neeriemer, director of Title 1 and English as a Second Language programs for Buncombe County Schools; and Rosario Villarreal, immigrant and local business owner.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call the LWV office at 258-8223.


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