March 8, 2011 | Hispanically Speaking News | Original Article

Hispanics See a Population Surge in North Carolina, but a Job Shortage

Hispanics in North Carolina are seeing first hand, the effects of the recession, being hit hard by the lack of work.

The 2010 Census showed that the Hispanic population in North Carolina has more than doubled since the last census in 2000. Unfortunately, the country’s economy went downhill, and now the dozens of immigrants that were arriving weekly, are now getting back on buses and heading out, though some are determined to ride it out.

Maria Velasquez, assistant manager of bus company Tornado Bus Co., which traveled back and forth to Mexico daily, said the only immigrants coming in now are the ones with permits to work in the tobacco fields.

She said that many of those leaving are undocumented immigrants who can no longer obtain driver’s licenses and can therefore not find work in an already shrinking job market. Increasing also, is the fear of being caught, arrested, and deported, leading to criminal records that would make future entry or paths to citizenship even more difficult.

Leo Reich, Latino director for Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries in Raleigh, N.C. said, “If you’re struggling, they’re struggling twice as hard. Economically, it hits them twice as hard. It was hard for them before, and now the jobs they were able to get are being taken by [Americans], who are now willing to work at those jobs when they weren’t willing to before.”

And while many may relish in the mass migration out of the state, Hispanic advocates say they are doing more than just leaving open jobs slots behind.

“They are a very enterprising group of people,” said member of a board that that advocates for Latinos in North Carolina, Pablo Escobar. “If you’re traveling 6,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have some gumption. That first generation is extremely enterprising. We’ve seen it with every wave of immigrants that has come to this country.”

“We could definitely use that energy here in North Carolina.”