'Undocumented and proud:' Immigrants push back in Raleigh against NC bills

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Alongside faith leaders from across the state, many undocumented people attended a rally on Wednesday evening outside the Executive Mansion. And they spoke openly about the nervousness and fear their families are feeling as the state moves to make it tougher for people to live here without legal status.

But beyond that fear, there also were cries to keep fighting.

The children held signs reading, "Keep families together" and "ICE out of NC."

All of them declared their opposition to house bills 370 and 135 -- the controversial plans they say would be disastrous for immigrant families here unlawfully.

"Let us show not only the lawmakers but everybody that drives by what Southern hospitality looks like," the Rev. Jason Villegas implored the crowd.

Josefina Gonzalez de la Rosa broke down in tears.

"I'm one of those mothers who have been torn apart from their husbands," she told the crowd through a translator.

De la Rosa said her husband was taken by ICE agents in the widespread raids during the winter.

Demonstrators said they suspect husbands such as hers are being targeted because they're the primary breadwinners.

De la Rosa said she's baking bread in her home kitchen to sell to make ends meet while her husband faces deportation.

Wednesday's prayers were led by the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church which sent an open letter to Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly expressing fears that HB370, which would require county sheriffs to cooperate with ICE, would make immigrants less likely to contact law enforcement in an emergency -- damaging trust and making neighborhoods more dangerous.

Hours earlier, Republicans in the State House passed HB 135. It's a measure allowing lawsuits against cities, counties or UNC system colleges that do not cooperate with ICE.

Supporters call the measures common-sense bills, noting that they only affect undocumented immigrants who've committed crimes.

"This is a good bill," said bill sponsor Michael Speciale, an Onslow County Republican. "This allows the citizens to step up to the plate and be able to stand up for what they believe in."

That argument won the day on Wednesday. The anti-sanctuary city bill passed the House and moves on the Senate.

On Monday night, the Senate passed the bill to force local sheriffs to work with ICE. But senators made changes, and the House needs to again vote on the bill.

Meantime, both bills face potential vetoes by Cooper. That's something demonstrators at the mansion
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