Immigration activists interrupt Rep. Price's Raleigh town hall

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, July 19, 2018

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- Congressman David Price organized the town hall to talk about pushing a progressive agenda in Washington in the Trump era - but immigration-rights activists brought their own agenda and made it difficult at times for the event's moderator to keep control.

The event was interrupted several times with loud cries of, "Private bill now!"

Demonstrators held signs with the names and faces of the six men and women -- immigrants here unlawfully in North Carolina -- who are facing immediate deportation but being given sanctuary and protection from federal immigration agents inside churches across the state.

They include Oscar Canales who was living and working in North Carolina under an expired work visa and was told seven months ago by the Trump Administration that he would get no additional reprieves and that he was going to be deported.

We spoke to Canales' wife, Naomi Florian, and his 6-year old daughter as they pleaded with their Democratic congressman to introduce a private immigration bill for her husband and the others to repair their immigration status and reunite their families.

"We don't want him to go back to his country, El Salvador, It's very dangerous over there. I don't want to bring my family over there," Florian said.

Activists say Price's office has informed them it would be useless to intervene - insisting a private immigration bill would stand no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress. Demonstrators don't buy it.

"You're around 30 years because you know how to play ball because you have good relationships with Republicans," said immigration-rights activist Viridiana Martinez with Alberta Migratoria. "We're asking (Price) to use his leadership to fight for these people."

Price was not available to speak with ABC11 following the town hall, but his communications director, Sawyer Hackett, sent a written statement in response to the demonstrator's claims: "Rather than undertaking symbolic gestures that have zero chances of achieving solutions for these individuals, we prefer to engage directly with the agency on their behalf to exhaust every avenue of legal recourse."