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Immigrant students graduating from NC high schools want in-state college tuition

Students met with legislators during the 7th annual ‘Undocugraduation’, advocating for a bill that would grant in-state college tuition for undocumented students on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Raleigh, NC. By

There are thousands of North Carolina students who were brought to the U.S. as children through illegal immigration. When they graduate from high school, those hoping to attend college aren’t eligible for in-state tuition, as students in 20 other states are.

One them is Rosalinda Patino, a senior at Garinger High School in Charlotte.

Patino immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3 years old, and grew up a student in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She started working with her parents when she was 11, after school. She feels grateful for the things she has, but has sacrificed a lot to keep her parents proud, Patino said.

“I just hope for something better,” she said. Her father was deported last year, and it’s been difficult, she said.

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Patino was among dozens of high school students, college students and those hoping to go to college who held a mock graduation — called “undocugraduation,” a reference to undocumented status — at the state legislature on Wednesday.

States are required to provide public K-12 education for all students regardless of immigration status, but the same is not true for higher education.

Supporters of in-state tuition for students who graduate from North Carolina public schools, regardless of their immigration status, know that a bill won’t pass the General Assembly this year, as the deadline for most bills to move through the House or Senate this session has passed. But they’re already looking to next year.

“I just wish everyone would come together and let us go to college, instead of just graduating from high school,” Patino said.

‘Uphill battle’ to get Republican support

Several Democrats support the idea, but it’s an uphill battle getting Republican support, said Sen. Wiley Nickel, a Wake County Democrat.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, opponents of the in-state tuition have argued that it would be an incentive to immigrate illegally, or take away an opportunity from another student.

In North Carolina, the idea doesn’t appear likely to get a lot of support from Republicans who control the legislature.

Sen. Deanna Ballard, a Boone Republican who chairs the Senate Education Committee, released a statement through Senate leader Phil Berger’s office, contrasting the idea with proposals to cut money for school vouchers.

“Senate Democrats want to eliminate scholarship funds that allow working class kids to go to the same schools as wealthier families, but then give taxpayer-funded subsidies to people who aren’t even in this country legally. I think they need to reassess their priorities,” Ballard said.

Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, said in-state tuition is both an equity and economic development issue, citing the other 20 states that allow it.

Kayla Romero Morais of Students for Education Reform said that some students give up college plans because they cannot afford it. She said supporters are hoping that in the next legislative session if they can’t win support for in-state tuition for all public North Carolina colleges, the state could at least start with community colleges.

‘Undocugraduation’

The students who participated in the mock graduation took turns describing their career aspirations, which included nursing, mathematics, medicine, real estate, education, architecture and public policy.

Maria Lopez Gonzalez, 20, graduated from West Bladen High School in Bladenboro, then went to Wake Technical Community College and is now studying political science at Meredith College in Raleigh. She has lived in the U.S. since she was 1. Her dad came first, as a migrant farmworker; then her mom; and then they sent for her. Her mom’s brother was persecuted by gang violence, Gonzalez said, and didn’t want that for her children. Both parents came from a difficult situation, she said.

“My dad grew up in a shed. They knew what it was like to live without, and didn’t want me to,” she said.

Gonzalez was the first girl in her family to graduate from high school, and the first family member to graduate from college. She wants to be a policy analyst and possibly a lawyer.

Dariana Valencia is a graduate of Millbrook High School in Raleigh and is now a student at Queens University in Charlotte. A nursing major, her tuition is paid through a scholarship.

Valencia, 19, moved to the U.S. from Mexico when she was around 5 years old. She only has faint memories of it. She’s a DACA recipient, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is an Obama-era program that defers deportation. It’s been under fire from the Trump administration.

Her parents also went to college, and her mother was a secretary and her dad a pilot in Mexico. “That didn’t mean anything here,” Valencia said. Now their jobs are cleaning at an insurance company. She said they’ve been supportive of her goals, and she wants other students to be able to afford college, too.

“These are people who want to go to school and make the best of the rest of their life,” she said.

North Carolina had about 25,000 DACA recipients as of September 2017, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The ACLU of North Carolina says there are 27,000 DACA recipients living in the state now.

A News & Observer survey of some state leaders showed a majority supporting a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

Supporters of in-state tuition for North Carolina high school graduates regardless of immigration status would include both DACA and non-DACA recipients.

In 2016, an estimated 3,000 unauthorized immigrants graduated from North Carolina high schools, according to a recent report by the Migration Policy Institute, which seeks to improve immigration policy. The report shows the largest numbers in California, with 27,000 graduates, and Texas, with 17,000 high school graduates of 98,000 total across the United States.

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Help The Charlotte Observer and ProPublica track hate crimes in North Carolina

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Have you been attacked for your identity — your race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation? Or have you witnessed a hate crime? Tell us about it.

The Charlotte Observer has joined a collaborative reporting project led by ProPublica to track hate incidents across the country.

Why we’re participating

Since the 2016 election, civil rights groups have reported an increase in bias incidents and hate crimes. But there’s no reliable national data on the nature or prevalence of these incidents.

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Although federal law requires the FBI to ask state and local law enforcement agencies for statistics on hate crimes, thousands of those jurisdictions don’t provide data. There may be as many as 25 to 50 times more hate crimes occurring annually than the total tracked by the FBI, according to estimates from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

These discrepancies exist, at least in part, because victims or witnesses of such incidents don’t report them. When they do, law enforcement may not necessarily classify the incident as a hate crime.

ProPublica launched Documenting Hate in January 2017 to create a database of hate crimes and bias incidents in the United States. Since then, over 170 newsrooms have joined the project and collected nearly 6,000 reports from across the country.

The Observer’s work in the project will build on its past work to track hate crimes and bias incidents, which may not rise to the level of a crime.

In 2016, during the height of debate over House Bill 2 — more commonly known as the “bathroom bill” — the Observer published accounts of intimidation and discrimination in 50 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

If you have experienced or witnessed a recent hate crime, please use this tool to help us track the prevalence of these incidents locally and nationwide.

Please include your contact information so reporters can contact you to follow up about the incident. (It will not be shared with anyone outside the Documenting Hate project without your permission.)

The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency.

If the embedded form below is not displaying properly, please submit your information here.

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American Airlines now departing daily for Charlotte, North Carolina

Munich Airport welcomes new US destination

American Airlines has launched a new service to the land of endless opportunities: Effective immediately, an Airbus A330 will be departing daily from Munich to Charlotte, in the US state of North Carolina. Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, with a total of 46.6 million passengers per year, is comparable to Munich Airport. It is the sixth-largest US airport and one of the busiest American Airlines hubs. The US carrier is planning to offer more than 700 daily connections there by the end of this year.

The decision by the world’s largest airline (in terms of total passenger kilometers in 2018) to expand its services in Munich underscores the important role played by Munich Airport for US routes. In 2018, 1.8 million people departed from Munich for destinations in the USA, making it not only the number one destination country in the intercontinental segment, but also placing it in the top three among all countries served from Munich. Among US destinations served from Munich, Charlotte ranks eighth in total passengers.

Photos for download, please find below.

Corinna Born
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Munich Airport
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Man taken into custody uninjured after SWAT situation shuts down Charlotte road

Officials say a suicidal man was armed with a gun and had barricaded himself inside the home. (Taylor Simpson | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – A man was taken into custody uninjured following a SWAT situation that shut down a road in Charlotte late Wednesday night.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the incident happened on Dundeen Street as police were called around 7 p.m.

When the officers arrived, the man reportedly refused to cooperate and continued to make threats to harm himself.

Additional officers responded to assist and around 10:45 p.m., CMPD SWAT responded to the scene after the man fired a round inside the residence and continued making threats.

Police say an Involuntary Commitment Order was obtained to ensure the man receives the mental health treatment he needs.

In addition, he is being charged with possessing a firearm by a convicted felon. Due to the nature of this incident, police are not releasing his name.

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One taken to the hospital following west Charlotte crash

Micah Smith | WBTV

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) –

A person was seriously injured when a vehicle overturned in a crash in west Charlotte Monday morning.

The single-vehicle wreck happened just before 7 a.m. Interstate 85 near Little Rock Road at Exit 30. MEDIC said one person was taken to Carolinas Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the wreck shut down the right lane on the interstate. The lane is expected to reopen around 8 a.m.

There’s no word on what caused the crash. No other details were released.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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