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Statement on Syrian refugees

Governors in the southeast should welcome Syrian refugees

The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) is appalled that the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have decided to turn their backs on Syrian refugees, who have fled the horrific reign of terror imposed by both the Islamic State and their own government. Given that only the federal government has the power to admit refugees, it is clear that these governors are exploiting the horrible tragedy in Paris to instill fear and hatred at a time when we most need to welcome and reach out to our sisters and brothers from Syria who are seeking refuge and risking everything in order to save their loved ones.

According to the Supreme Court case Hines v. Davidowitz, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution,” meaning the federal government has full power over states in the matter of accepting Syrian refugees. We support the Obama Administration’s decision to continue to allow Syrian refugees into the country.

The governors’ posturing about refusing to accept Syrian refugees is a dangerous political maneuver to incite fear and hatred against Muslims and against immigrant and refugee communities in general in order to score political points. We are already seeing the islamophobic and xenophobic escalate: Tennessee’s House Republican Caucus Chairman has called for the National Guard  to “round up” any Syrian refugees who have recently settled in the state and to prevent additional Syrian refugees from entering Tennessee, “by whatever means we can.” We condemn this fear mongering, and we stand strong with those who are courageous enough to envision and create a South that welcomes refugees and immigrants.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” History will judge us in our moments of silence and we cannot afford to repeat past mistakes, when the United States turned its back to those in need. Instead of politicizing this tragedy and blaming the refugees, we have the opportunity and the duty to demonstrate that the United States is truly committed to ending the horror imposed by the Islamic State by offering refuge to those who are in its epicenter.  We urge the governors to rescind their statements calling for the federal government to suspend admissions of Syrian refugees.   

Below are statements from some of our partner organizations:

Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice:

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition:



NC Immigrants Respond to Racist State Law, Walk out on Wake County Sheriff Over Jail Deportation Program

NC Immigrants Respond to Racist State Law,

Walk out on Wake County Sheriff Over Jail Deportation Program

Raleigh, NC -- Immigrant residents of Wake County, including the six people arrested for blocking the street in front of Governor McCrory’s mansion in October, have just walked out of the Wake County Sheriff’s “287(g) Forum” chanting “fuera ICE, ICE out of Raleigh.”

“287(g) didn’t work from day one. Now an openly racist state law, like HB-318, makes ICE’s presence in local jails all the more indefensible.” said Raleigh resident Gregorio Morales, who made a statement as the community walked out of the forum. “Do you think we are safer now? This program does not advance public safety, you’ve thrown the community under the bus.”  

On October 29th, North Carolina enacted HB-318, restricting immigrants’ use of identifications and localities’ ability to place limits on ICE overreach. In response to the controversial state law, community leaders are uniting behind the demand for county officials to immediately take ICE out of Raleigh’s county jail.

“If we can’t put reasonable limits on ICE’s unconstitutional overreach, there can be no ICE presence in local jails. The movement for immigrant dignity doesn’t stop because of racist laws,” says Griselda Alonso, a longtime resident of Raleigh and community leader. 

“After HB-318, we cannot make excuses for allowing ICE to incentivize racial profiling in Wake County," said Alonso.

Background: Currently, Wake County is one of five jurisdictions in North Carolina that houses, at taxpayers expense, US federal immigration enforcement (ICE) inside its county facilities under controversial 287(g) agreements. The outdated 287(g) programs have been widely criticized for incentivizing racial profiling of people of color, eroding public confidence of local law enforcement, and diverting resources from actual public safety programs.


Alto HB 318 Coalition is comprised of a diverse group of organizations and individuals committed to fighting for the dignity and respect for all immigrants and low-income communities in North Carolina


Groups Announce Daily Protests at Governor’s Mansion: “Gov. McCrory, Don’t Let Hate Trump North Carolina”

Gov. McCrory's business partners & supporters called to reject hate legislation

Raleigh, NC — Immigrant and civil rights allies plan to congregate at the Governor’s Mansion on Monday at 4:30pm, as calls increase for Governor Pat McCrory to stop a bill that has been called, “divisive, discriminatory, and terrible for public safety.” 

“Faced with growing nativism and a blatantly hateful bill, Governor McCrory has a special responsibility to do the right thing,” said Bruno Hinojosa from Coalición de Organizaciones Latinoamericanas (COLA.)  “The message from our community is clear, Governor McCrory, don’t let hate trump North Carolina. HB 318 is divisive, discriminatory, and terrible for public safety.”

Immigrant rights groups and allies are calling on Governor McCrory’s business partners and supporters to weigh in with the Governor to stop HB 318. 

“Time is critical, and not just for immigrants. Those who partner with and support the Governor also have a moral obligation to ask for an immediate veto.” said Carmen Rodríguez del Comité Popular Somos Raleigh.  “Law firms and local stores associated to the Governor should not expect business as usual until the Governor rejects hate legislation. The people of North Carolina know that HB 318 is ill-conceived and divisive, and we pledge to hold its supporters accountable.” 

Last Wednesday, the Governor’s office received over 3,000 signatures from North Carolina residents opposed to HB 318. On Thursday, a letter signed by leading faith and civil rights groups was delivered to Governor McCrory. 


The South Joins North Carolina in Urging Governor McCrory to Veto HB 318


Raleigh, NC – The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) condemns and opposes House Bill 318 — which restricts the types of identification cards immigrants can use to prove their identities with government officials, and bans cities and counties in North Carolina from opting out of entering into contract with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). This despicable, hateful and unnecessary bill will only create further mistrust between local police and communities. 

“A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk,” Pope Francis told Congress last week. Sadly, North Carolina's legislators are doing exactly the opposite, turning the state into a symbol of hate and exclusion in the South and nationally. It is shameful that legislators are emulating states like Arizona and Alabama that have enacted legislation that criminalize and racially profile immigrants.  

Local law enforcement should not be tasked with enforcing federal immigration law since they are not equipped to so, and because it will hinder them from protecting the people they are sworn to protect. When local police collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigrant communities are less likely to report crimes because of fear of deportation.

Instead of scapegoating immigrant communities and creating further mistrust, North Carolina’s leaders should acknowledge the contributions of immigrants to the state and pass policies that enable immigrants to fully participate in their communities. HB 318 is a fear-mongering bill, and SEIRN joins other immigrant and civil rights groups in condemning this legislation and urging Governor McCrory to veto this legislation. 


Statement of Solidarity with the Gulf South on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) and our members stand in solidarity with Gulf South communities on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As a Southern regional network of immigrant organizers, activist and families, we acknowledge that the institutional racism that caused the loss of lives, displacement and intense hardship of African Americans, Gulf Coast immigrants, people of color and working class communities still persists even to this day. We remember the lives that were lost, the families that were separated, the homes that were destroyed and the devastating environmental impact on the region. We pay tribute to the work of immigrants who have migrated to the Gulf Coast to rebuild the region in the midst of constant threats and targeting by local police and immigration agents. Most importantly we honor the legacy of the always resilient and resisting Gulf South communities that are gathered together as Gulf South Rising and at the Southern Movement Assembly this week to collectively heal and build a South that reclaims our dignity and lifts up our humanity. We stand with you.

While you gather in New Orleans, hundreds of grassroots immigrant rights activists from across the South will be gathered in Hampton, Georgia at the 2015 SEIRN Conference to build a deeper understanding of institutional racism and white supremacy, strategizing on how to dismantle it in our local communities and institutions and actively work to build solidarity between the immigrant rights movement and the #Blacklivesmatter movement. While we are not physically present with you, please know that we are connected to your space of continued movement building and collective healing through our hearts and through our work this weekend and for the long haul. Together we work to dismantle racism and white supremacy, end oppression and exploitation, and build a new South that respects our whole humanity, values each and every life, and embodies the freedom and justice our communities deserve.