'Immigration Impact' Town Hall to address a variety of issues

'Immgiration Impact' Town Hall to address a variety of issues (Image credit: WLOS Staff)

Though it is not a new issue, it seems like in recent months immigration has constantly been in the national discussion. That is why News 13 is holding a "Your Voice, Your Future: The Immigration Impact" Town Hall discussion.

Doors open at the Virginia Boone Building at the WNC Ag Center at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The event is from 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on www.wlos.com and channel 13.3.

A four-person panel will answer questions from the audience.

Related Link| Panelists announced for "Your Voice, Your Future: The Immigration Impact" Town Hall

  • Bryan D. Cox - Southern Region Communications Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Marisol Jimenez – Nuestro Centro & CIMA
  • Dr. Dan Eichenbaum - Founder Dr. Dan's Freedom Forum; Chairman of Cherokee Co. Board of Commissioners
  • Dr. George D. Pappas, ESQ PC – Executive Director, The International Center for Legal Studies

President Donald Trump repeatedly promised tougher immigration enforcement and a border wall during his campaign.

In February, the Trump administration released its plan to stop illegal immigration which included:

  • Hiring thousands of new border patrol & immigration enforcement agents
  • Create a new office within the Department of Homeland Security to work with the victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants
  • Expand how many unauthorized immigrants can be deported through an expedited process

As part of the plan, the 5,000 additional border patrol agents and 10,000 immigration agents were ordered to deport any undocumented immigrants charged or convicted of crimes -- even minor offenses.

Under the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement focused on deportation in three categories: convicted criminals, public safety threats, and those who recently crossed the border illegally.

According to I.C.E. spokesman Bryan Cox, the total number of immigration arrests nationwide from Jan. 20 - Apr. 29 of this year is 41,898. Of those, 73.9% were convicted criminals. That's up more than 10,000 arrests during the same period in 2016.

I.C.E.'s Atlanta field office covers the Carolinas and Georgia, and does not break down stats by state. From the Atlanta office, there were 4,246 arrests during the same time period. Of those, 66.1% were convicted criminals. In 2016, there were 2,429 arrests during the same time period, according to Cox.

Those numbers indicate the increased enforcement in just the first few months of the year.

Related Link| Immigration enforcement up as local agriculture GM calls for reform

In North Carolina there are an estimated 350,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the most recent numbers from the Pew Research Center. Last year, the Refugee Processing Center says North Carolina took in more than 3,700 refugees from other countries, up 36% from 2015.

The President has also repeatedly called for a temporary travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries. Now his executive order remains tied up in legal limbo. On Jun. 12, another federal appeals court upheld a decision blocking President Trump's revised travel ban.

The ruling from a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deals the administration another legal defeat as the Supreme Court considers a separate case on the issue.

The judges say the president violated U.S. immigration law by discriminating against people based on their nationality and that Trump failed to show their entry into the country would hurt American interests.

They didn't rule on whether the travel ban violated the Constitution's ban on the government officially favoring or disfavoring any religion.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia also ruled against the travel ban May 25. The administration has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.

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