North Carolina does little to help its undocumented. Can we learn from California and New York?

Laura Brache
Mayo 3, 2020

Emilia’s situation is desperate. In mid-March, her husband, who is the sole supporter for her and their five children, was arrested in the Charlotte area and later deported to Mexico. A week later, Mecklenburg County ordered its residents to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

She says that even though her husband always paid his taxes for his work installing roofs, being undocumented means he does not qualify for the 1,200 check or the 500 per child as provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act).

Emilia says she is relieved that she does not have to deal with her lights and water being shut off, or with being evicted from her home in the coming weeks, thanks to measures taken by Governor Roy Cooper. However, she is overcome with fear when she thinks about the end of this grace period and how her debt has accumulated.

On Sunday, April 19, two strangers knocked on her door. It was Maudia Meléndez from the organization Jesus Ministry and her husband, Samuel Meléndez. They found out about Emilia’s situation and went to deliver food and other supplies to her. The immigrant could not contain her tears– she said that the food reserves she had for her children, all school-aged, were about to run out.

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This story was produced by the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, a partnership of six media companies working together in an effort started by the Solutions Journalism Network and funded by The Knight Foundation.

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