If you happened to walk or drive past the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville on Tuesday, Feb. 1, you probably noticed a sign-toting group gathered there. The monument’s a regular spot for protesters and those trying to raise awareness about various issues. In this case, the group was part of a state-wide protest — Vigils in Defense of Educational Access. At issue is a North Carolina bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from the state’s public universities and community colleges. See the full press release below.
(photos by Jerry Nelson)
FROM the WNC WORKERS CENTER and the ADELANTE EDUCATION COALITION
On Feb. 1, youth and community leaders will gather for a vigil at Vance Memorial, Pack Square to call for the protection of education for all students. Asheville organizers are urging the leadership of the NC House and Senate to fight any legislation that would limit education and institute a system of segregation for students from immigrant families. North Carolina Representative George Cleveland (R – Onslow) has introduced HB 11, a bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges. On the anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins that courageously defied segregation, student and community leaders will honor the legacy of civil rights leaders and reflect on their concern to exclude thousands of hardworking students from education and participation in North Carolina’s economic recovery.
The North Carolina Department of Revenue collects income tax from undocumented immigrants using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, which have been issued by the Internal Revenue Service since 1996. In addition, all families and workers, pay sales taxes and property taxes which also fund local community colleges. Undocumented students should have a right to attend public post-secondary education in North Carolina, and have a right to pay in-state tuition as tax-paying state residents. Industry continues to use undocumented immigrant labor and the state insists on taxing undocumented immigrant wages, while claiming that undocumented immigrant youth cannot sit in the classroom.
The vigil is part of a state-wide action, Vigils in Defense of Educational Access, around North Carolina, to highlight the growing movement of faith and community groups working to bring humanity and compassion into the public dialogue on education. Supporting the vigil in Asheville are: COLA- Coalition of Latin American Organizations, HOLA of UNCA and AB Tech, CULA -Centro Unido Latino Americano of Marion, Nuestro Centro of Asheville, Jovenes por un Sueno/Youth for a Dream, Center for Participatory Change, WNC Workers Center and the Adelante Education Coalition. For more information go to www.adelantenc.org. Now is the time to restore dignity and respect to our schools and all communities.