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Town's immigrants claim significant victory in civil case

This country has often been seen as the land of opportunity with freedom to be whatever a person wants, which may be the compelling reason for so many to risk so much to come here. However, once here, the reality can be quite different from what many immigrants may have imagined. There is often discrimination and harassment displayed by residents who are less than welcoming. There may even be some here in North Carolina who have had to fight to have their rights respected.

Recently, one town's immigrant population has fought city hall -- so to speak -- and scored a huge victory in the process. In reality, it was the police force in that town that had seemed to make life difficult for many of the non-native population. In 2010, a suit was filed in regard to the seemingly hostile actions of the local law enforcement toward the targeted population.

According to the complaint, the town's officers harassed shopkeepers and residents alike by conducting unlawful searches, making false arrests, committing assaults, and engaging in other hurtful and illegal discriminatory practices. Four officers were arrested a few years ago for these types of actions, and the chief of police was forced out over the issues. The Department of Justice stepped in to conduct an investigation into the allegations and to help resolve the tense situation.

Now, the end result is that the town has what has been described as the most restrictive laws concerning what enforcement measures officers can take when interacting with the town's immigrants. They are limited as to what types of questions they are permitted to ask, and they will no longer be empowered to make an arrest on status issues alone. The plaintiffs in this case have expressed their hopes that these types of measures may eventually be realized in every town in every state. North Carolina immigrants who believe they, too, may have suffered similar discrimination might be empowered by this case and seek information from local resources that may be able to provide answers and resolutions for their possible problems.

Source: peoplesworld.org, "Civil rights lawsuit wins groundbreaking immigration policy", Joelle Fishman, June 9, 2014

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