Friday, August 20, 2010

Charlotte ambulance delivered to Haiti hospital

It took six weeks to get the ambulance out of customs, but a Charlotte ambulance was finally delivered to a Haitian hospital this week.

Members of Charlotte’s Haitian Heritage & Friends of Haiti delivered the ambulance to staffers at Justinien University Hospital in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. The ambulance with over 200,000 miles was formerly used by Mecklenburg county's emergency medical service department.

The Charlotte rescue team purchased the vehicle for $3,000 this spring as part of a county auction. It was transported by ship to Haiti in June, but got stuck in customs because of incomplete paperwork.

“What a bliss,” Dr. Jean Gracia, medical director of Justinien University Hospital, wrote in a thank you letter to the team and city of Charlotte. “...My staff and the patients are very grateful and lucky to have organizations like yours thinking about their well-being when they are most vulnerable. The quality of care has improved tremendously due to the newly received donations.”

Fort Mill paramedic Thomas Hall, a member of the Haitian Heritage & Friends of Haiti, will travel back to Haiti in the coming weeks to help train Justinien staff on how to use and operate the ambulance.

For more information about the Haitian Heritage & Friends of Haiti, or to help, visit or contact

Monday, August 16, 2010

Does 14th Amendment apply to illegal immigrants?

This is not the first time that the law that gives 'birthright citizenship' to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants has come under fire.

We wrote about efforts by U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia to change the law last year.

But a new effort has gained steam recently since S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham waded into the controversy. It’s quite a move for the Republican Senator who has long worked with Democrats in search of a compromise on immigration reform.

The newest research on the "birthright citizenship" debate by the Pew Hispanic Center estimates 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants.

In editorial by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the writers argued that the United State simply needs to enforce the 14th Amendment's plain language. They say the second clause of the 14th Amendment (emphasis added below) straightforwardly denies birthright citizenship to newborns of illegal immigrants:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."
Pew found that illegal immigrants comprise slightly more than four percent of the adult population of the U.S., but because they are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (eight percent) and the child population (7 percent of those younger than age 18) in this country.

The Center for Immigration Studies took a look at the Pew’s findings. The enforcement advocacy group found that not only was the U.S. border porous for adult illegal immigrants, but also for young illegal immigrants.

“Mentioned, but not stressed, in the media coverage of the Pew study is one fact: there are 1.1 million foreign-born children of illegal alien parents. They are all 17 or younger. The strong implication is that almost all of them are in illegal status,” David North wrote for the Center.

North said most probably entered as toddlers without inspection along with their parents. Others may have come on tourist visas that expired.

"These 1.1 million children are a quiet proof of the laxity of our border controls," he said.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Man accused of raping children flagged as an illegal immigrant

In case you missed it, here is a link to my colleague's story about the Charlotte man who is accused of raping children ages 7 and 8. After receiving a tip from one of our frequent posters, Ghoul, we contacted the sheriff's department and learned that they had an immigration detainer on Ricardo Velasquez. One of our cops reporters, Cleve Wootson, took it from there.

Man accused of raping children ages 7 and 8
Suspect who's jailed in south Charlotte case has also been flagged as an illegal immigrant.

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

A man accused of raping two children in south Charlotte Sunday night has been flagged as an illegal immigrant in Mecklenburg jail.

Ricardo Velasquez was in jail late Wednesday. He was given a $170,000 bond but was also being held by immigration authorities after sheriff's deputies identified him as an illegal immigrant under the 287(g) program.

Velasquez, 40, was charged with two counts of rape on a child under 13, two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, and two counts of first-degree sex offense on a child. The children were ages 7 and 8, according to a police report.

Read more:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SC town seeks to stop illegal immigrants from moving in

A town near Charleston is considering a proposal that would prevent illegal immigrants from living in the community.

Summerville town councilors are expected to consider an ordinance today that would prevent illegal immigrants from living in the town of 45,000 people and in most cases keep them from working here, according to The Post and Courier.

Councilman Walter Bailey says the idea was prompted in part by the Obama administration's challenge of the new Arizona immigration law.

A federal judge has blocked key aspects of that Arizona law, but Bailey says his Summerville ordinance is different enough to where he doesn't think the judge's ruling applies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Charlotte resident: 'Why I am boycotting Arizona'

There has been a lot of talk about people boycotting Arizona following passage of its tough new immigration law. Some of those people include Charlotte residents Edith Garwood and her family.

They had been planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, but decided to cancel the trip once Arizona passed a law that made illegal immigration a crime and required police to check the status of immigrants believed to be in the country illegally. (A federal judge has since temporarily blocked the police requirement until it can be studied further).

Garwood wrote a letter to the Arizona hotel where the family planned to stay and explained why they were canceling. She shared the letter with me and also explained to me the reasoning behind her decision.

Why cancel your trip?
We decided to change our vacation plans because once I heard about SB1070, I was afraid for members of my family and brought it up for a vote one night at dinner. Although we are all U.S. citizens, there are members of my family with darker skin and anyone who looks into SB1070 can tell that it could be easily abused and most likely would be abused. Why go to a place where there was any chance of being harassed simply based on our looks?

Why write a letter?

We decided to go elsewhere and make a point that we were specifically boycotting the state so I wrote a letter to notify the resort that we would not be coming for a week of vacation. Boycotts don't do any good unless you let the target know why people aren't buying something. We realize Arizona has some serious and legitimate issues to deal with, but SB1070 is not a well thought-out law and not the solution.

How does the recent decision by a federal judge to temporarily block some of the more controversial parts of the law impact your plans?
The judge's decision hasn't changed our minds because the injunction only puts a hold on some aspects of the law; it doesn't suspend the law completely or guarantee that the abusive parts would not return. Also, the wide support of the law in Arizona makes Arizona look like a place not welcoming or accepting of diversity or those who may look different, so why go there when there are other great areas in America to visit?

May 29, 2010

Hyatt Pinon Pointe
1 North Highway 89A
Sedona, Arizona

To Facility Manager,

My family had been planning a ‘Grand Canyon vacation’ since December 2009. After some research, we knew we wanted to stay in Sedona because of its beautiful landscape and convenience to many activities in the area.

I started searching Sedona facilities because we have a family of five (5) made up of two adults and three (3) teen-agers – so we needed plenty of space. I had sent an email to my husband saying that I had found the perfect location – the Hyatt Pinon Pointe resort.

I looked up the email and this is what I had written, “There was one place that stood out as having everything we might want to be comfortable with three teen-agers and I've copied in the link below. It has two bedrooms with plenty of beds/sofabeds, it has a kitchenette, washer/dryer, pool, great view and near tour companies. Going thru a pkg. it was around $#,### for five, but doing it on my own and getting a better flight for us would be $#,### - not a whole lot more. This figure includes round trip for five, 7 nights in the resort and a mid-size car for a week. We would have to add on food and tours. “

Then I included link and the question, ‘Make reservations?’ But as I was in the process of doing all this, I was also reading about the Arizona legislation SB1070. I understand the complexity of the situation and the issues the state faces in trying to combat crime, especially by those who cross the border without papers. I understand that this nation faces some real problems that require some real solutions, but I believe SB1070 is a short-sighted and basically racist piece of legislation that can only lead to more problems.

Our family was ready to spend several thousand dollars in your state this month, much of it at your facility, but we cannot in good conscience support a state with such legislation. I do regret it is your business that has to suffer, but money talks and if enough people who feel like I do at least let the businesses know why they are not coming this summer, maybe the businesses will contact their elected officials to report the negative results and demand change.

I realize you are probably very busy at this moment with guests, but I wonder how many others would have come to Arizona and your facility, but just haven’t taken the time to write and let you know that they are not coming. Boycotts are more effective when the business/state you are boycotting is made aware of the fact that you are boycotting so this is my official notice that we had made up our minds and had really wanted to vacation in Sedona, AZ this summer, but cannot do so with a good conscience and so are boycotting the state and by extension – your business.

Thank you. May SB1070 be repealed and a more just and fair solution be found soon so those of us who want to visit your great state can do so without hesitation.

Edith Garwood
Concord, NC