Latin American Coalition push local campaign for family unity - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Latin American Coalition push local campaign for family unity

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A Charlotte group sees hope in new efforts to reform immigration. 

The president recently re-affirmed his pledge to carve a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally. And, this week North Carolina announced it will give drivers license to young people who qualify for deferred deportation.

Local advocates feel like this could be the year they finally see comprehensive immigration reform. Members of the Latin American Coalition say the driver's license issue is a step in the right direction but hardly enough. They say the fight to stop deportation and keep families together is far from over.

Armando Cruz-Martinez with United for the Dream plans to travel to Washington, DC in early March to tell how a broken immigration system forced his family apart.

"On March 31, 2010 my dad was deported. As a result of that, my mom had to make ends meet for me, my five sisters and my baby brother. Due to the stress and our poor financial state, she decided to move to Mexico to be with my dad so my family could be united again," Cruz-Martinez said.

Cruz-Martinez stayed behind and lived with an uncle.

His story he says it not uncommon. Local advocates say keeping families together is an important piece of immigration reform.

Cruz-Martinez will be one of 45 young people from Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh to take part in NCLR advocate days. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States and are accelerating the push for immigration reform right here in North Carolina.

"It's something that hasn't been addressed in the Senate or the House or the President's own plan and it's something we want to make sure they know about going forward," Armando Bellmas with the Latin American Coalition said.

At a press conference Friday, Bellmas pointed to statistics that show 5,000 children were put into foster care because a parent was detained or deported last year.

"Immigration reform at the national level is not a political football. It's not an opportunity to throw people under the bus. It's an opportunity to do what's right for NC," Jess George with the Latin American Coalition said.

Advocates with the Latin American Coalition say everyone they've spoken to in Washington is open encourage folks to continue to call, write and meet with local legislators.

Senator Kay Hagen said in a emailed statement last month, "I continue to support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, and I will consider any proposals in that context."

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