For the past two days, I visited the NC General Assembly, where the House of Representatives and the Senate work together. I was there with El Pueblo, a Latinx political organization in Raleigh, and helped with lobbying and talking in opposition to the anti-immigrant bills in North Carolina. This opportunity has helped me open my eyes to what our state representatives and senators are like.
On Tuesday, I was there with two other students, Carl Hintz, a senior studying mathematics, and Bianca Olivares, a senior studying social work.
We went to visit different offices of representatives to lobby, and that meant making efforts to win political influence or support in a legislative body. Our goal is to persuade lawmakers not to vote for bills that damage the Latinx community in Raleigh and throughout the state.
With us were two women who did not speak English and a translator who told them what the representatives and their assistants said. I could see first-hand how the laws that want to separate undocumented parents from their children who were born here affect families. The women were able to share their stories and feelings as Latina women who know the danger of the bills, some of which include police taking federal responsibility of immigration officers to arrest undocumented people.
Then there was a news conference, where I had the opportunity to speak to many news organizations in the city about how I feel in general toward the eight bills in our legislature that hurt the Latinx community, many of whom are undocumented workers.
I went by myself to speak at the senate meeting where there was a discussion about Senate Bill 145, a bill that bans universities in the UNC System, like NC State, from becoming sanctuary schools — a school that protects undocumented students. On top of that, the bill has many restrictions for undocumented people in North Carolina.
To my surprise, Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman used the word "illegal" to talk about undocumented people, and he spoke in a very disrespectful tone.
I encourage you to speak to all the senators who proposed SB145, those who are voting for or against it. Although I only had one minute to speak, I told them that I wanted to oppose that bill so all senators, Republicans and Democrats, are aware that the North Carolina Hispanic youth know about this legislation and will take action against it.
A Republican senator told me that he and I just do not agree. He was very fond of taking action and talking at the meeting that day. I hope this experience can help other students to take action against anti-immigrant legislation in this state.