200 N. Chatham Ave. Siler City, NC 27344     919-742-1448

News

New date for Fiesta! 9/29/2018

Due to the hurricane, the new date for the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta is Saturday, September 29, from 1 to 7 pm in downtown Siler City. Please help us spread the word! 

Stay safe during the storm – check out our Facebook page for more information about shelters and other resources. 

Fiesta is a celebration for the whole community with live music, traditional dances, kids’ games, over 40 booths from businesses and agencies, art exhibit by Jose Manuel Cruz. We’ll also have a fabulous parade of traditional and quinceañera outfits and delicious food! We hope to see you at Fiesta!

Johnson’s Mobile Home Park is Closed

The 28 families from Johnson’s Mobile Home Park moved out by the agreed deadline and received their final check from Mountaire Farms!

Tuesday, July 31, was the last day for Johnson’s Mobile Home Park in Siler City, which was home for over 60 adults and 50 children. The majority of the residents were Hispanic.

    

Mountaire Farms evicted 28 families after purchasing the property to expand their new chicken processing plant. Johnson’s housed 28 mobile homes, 27 were owned by the residents who had invested an average of $10,000 per family in the purchase and repairs.

     

Since August 2017, The Hispanic Liaison hosted dozens of meetings with the Hispanic residents to help them articulate their needs, understand their rights, and negotiate with Mountaire Farms for compensation for their losses and relocation expenses.

   

               

In March, following public meetings with town and county commissioners, the residents secured a settlement that included 9 months of rent abatement, an extended move out date to July 31 (the original eviction date was May 7), and $8,300 in financial compensation, totaling $10,190 in benefit to each of the 28 families. 

                                   

 

We are pleased to report that all the families received their final compensation check after moving out by the July 31 deadline. Where are the families now?
–  21 found places to live in Chatham County
–  7 moved to Randolph County
–  3 moved their mobile homes to a new lot
–  7 purchased used mobile homes
–  1 purchased a home
–  17 are renting homes, apartments or mobile homes

Jorge, a father of four said, “I’m grateful to The Hispanic Liaison for helping us come together as a community. By standing united, we were able to face a powerful corporation and secure a fair compensation for our families. This was a great example for our children that we can and should stand up for our rights”.

 

 

We are honored to have stood with the residents to seek a just compensation for their losses. For over 8 months, the residents were united in this struggle, which took a lot of courage and tenacity. This agreement was only possible because of their resolve to organize and the company’s willingness to negotiate with us.

 

Thanks to financial support from Chatham County and from the community, The Liaison was able to help the families look for housing, advise on rental and purchase contracts, secure permits for moving mobile homes, organize volunteers to help residents move, coordinate the signing of the agreements, and much more. We were also responsible for disbursing the checks to each family, which were issued in three installments.

 

We have a long list of people to thank for supporting this cause:  
  • Jack Holtzman and Kate Woomer-Deeters, our excellent attorneys from the NC Justice Center
  • Elizabeth Haddix, EVH board member and intrepid attorney from the Julius Chamber Center for Civil Rights and
  • Joan Underwood, owner of the Courtyard Cafe and Peppercorn in Siler City for her amazing generosity in allowing us to meet with the families in her beautiful space across from our office.
  • Chatham County Commissioners and Manager for their support, intervention and for allocating funds to EVH that allowed us  to help the families till the end.
  • The generous donors who contributed to EVH and to the families. You were crucial to our efforts!
  • The allies and supporters who attended the public meetings, helped with research, gave us advice, thank you! 
  • Our amazing volunteers ~ teens from our Orgullo Latinx Pride youth group who took care of the children at the meetings; moving day volunteers who came from near and far to help several residents settle into their new homes; our dedicated board members Hannia Benitez, Carlos Sanchez and Elea Ocampo for helping many times over.  We couldn’t have done this without y’all!
  • Emilio Vicente, our past staff member who was a essential in helping us organize and coordinate this effort.
  • Rosa Arroyo, our newest staff member who jumped into her new role as program assistant for the Johnson’s cause and has done a wonderful job!
  • The media for sharing the stories of the families and of this struggle
  • Mark Reif, Community Relations Manager for Mountaire Farms, who was kind and respectful throughout the negotiation process.
  • Most of all, the brave families from Johnson’s for their vote of confidence and  their generosity in donating funds and volunteer work The Liaison. We’re very grateful and proud of you!
Johnson’s Farewell Party @ Peppercorn ~ 6/23/18

                                                    

                                                    

                                                       

Background:

In November 2017, Mountaire Farms purchased Johnson’s Mobile Home Park, which is adjacent to their new plant. Mountaire mailed an eviction notice to the residents giving them until May 7, 2018 to move out without offering any compensation for the residents’ losses. Johnson’s housed 28 mobile homes, 27 residents owned their homes and invested an average of $10,000 per family in the purchase and repairs. The eviction placed these low-income families in a dire situation.

After months of negotiations with Mountaire, press conferences and presentations to Siler City and Chatham County commissioners, the residents reached a settlement worth $10,190 per family.

Liberation Not Deportation

Chatham Immigration Defense Fund

We are sad to report that 3 family men were arrested by ICE* in Siler City in the early hours of Wednesday 4/11. They have lived in our community for over 15 years. Two brothers are from Guatemala and the third man is from El Salvador. They are the sole providers for their wives and 8 US citizen children.

None were on the list of people that ICE was looking for. They were approached by ICE on the street and were asked to show “their papers”.  The families are devastated.

We are helping the families through this crisis and have started to raise funds for legal fees and other needs for the families. All men now have legal representation, which is fundamental and costly.

ICE is still in our area and we fear that more people have been detained. They have arrested at least 30 individuals across the Triangle.

If you know someone who has been detained, please call us at 919-742-1448 for help.

*ICE = Immigration Customs and Enforcement

Please spread the word about our Legal Fair on Immigration on Saturday 4/28 !  

Can the families count on you? Here are ways to contribute:
Donate via our website

Donate via our Facebook Fundraiser
Mail checks to: 

Hispanic Liaison
ICE defense fund
200 N. Chatham Ave.
Siler City, NC 27344

Yes, we can!

We are pleased to announce that the families of Johnson’s Mobile Home Park have reached an agreement with Mountaire Farms on Monday, March 26! Scroll down for ways to help the families and support the cause.

Mountaire agreed to compensate mobile home residents at $8,300 per unit, payable in installments.  The residents will have until July 31 to move out and don’t have to pay lot rent, amounting to $1,890 in savings for those who stay through July.

The families are very grateful for the show of solidarity from the community and relieved that this aspect of their situation is now resolved.

This agreement was only possible due to the residents’ resolve to organize and the outpour of public support. We commend Mountaire Farms for listening to the families’ concerns, and for doing the right thing by increasing the compensation offer from $5,000 to $8,300.

Jonas N., a single mother and homeowner at Johnson’s said, “I want to thank Mountaire for helping our families. I’m also grateful to everyone who showed their support, especially The Hispanic Liaison who encouraged and helped us to stand up for ourselves.”

Jorge L., a homeowner and father of four, said “We are very grateful to The Hispanic Liaison for helping us to come together as a community. By standing united, we were able to face a powerful corporation and reach an agreement for fair compensation for our families”.  

The Liaison started meeting with the residents in August 2017. From the beginning, the residents have been united and determined to advocate for fair compensation for their families. They faced this crisis together with dignity and courage making all decisions collectively about the negotiations and strategies. We are proud of their courage to face Mountaire, the media, the public and our elected officials; something none of them had done before.

The Liaison is continuing to help the families to complete the agreements to receive their compensation, open bank accounts, find housing and move by July 31.

Do you want to help the community? Here are some of the ways:

Donate to the cause we need your help to continue empowering the community to stand up for their rights and to assist these families to look for housing. We also welcome donations by check.

Let us know about affordable rentals, call us at 919-742-1448 ~ the families wish to stay in Siler City and need help finding places to live.

Sign up to volunteer  to help residents move out of their homes ~ there are elderly folks and single moms who don’t have access to trucks and need help to move their belongings.

Stay informed, sign up for our email list ~ learn about our plans to ensure that these and other low-income families have access to affordable and decent housing. We promise not to fill your inbox and never share your information with anyone.

Thank you to all who joined us and the families at the public meetings, spoke out on their behalf or helped in other ways. The residents were moved by your solidarity and grateful to know that they are not alone. We are very grateful to the NC Justice Center  for their partnership and on-going legal assistance.

Thank you! 

Mass eviction struggle continues in Siler City

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Check out the top story in the N&O this Sunday. The struggle continues for fair compensation and to secure housing for over 100 adults and children being evicted by Mountaire poultry plant.

Do you want to help with this community crisis? Here are some of the ways:

Donate to the cause  ~ we need your help to continue empowering the community to stand up for their rights.

Let us know about affordable rentals, call us at 919-742-1448 ~ the families wish to stay in Siler City and need help finding places to live.

Sign up to volunteer  to help residents move out of their homes ~ there are elderly folks and single moms who don’t have access to trucks and need help to move their belongings.

Stay informed, sign up for our email list ~ learn about our plans to ensure that these and other low-income families have access to affordable and decent housing. We promise not to fill your inbox and never share your information with anyone.

A big thank you to all who joined us and the families at the public meetings, spoke out on their behalf or helped in other ways. The residents were moved by your solidarity and grateful to know that they are not alone. We are very grateful to the NC Justice Center  for their partnership and on-going legal assistance.

Background:

The Hispanic Liaison has been meeting with Johnson’s residents since August of last year, when we discovered that Mountaire Farms was going to purchase Johnson’s mobile home park and evict the residents of the 28 mobile homes.

Most of the homeowners are Hispanic and have invested an average of $10,000 per family in the purchase and repairs. Unfortunately, the homes will not be able to be moved due to their age.

The Liaison has helped residents articulate their needs and engage with Mountaire Farms in negotiations for a fair and just compensation for their losses and moving expenses. The negotiations started in January at a meeting between the residents, the company, and the town and county managers.

In March, we reached an impasse over the financial compensation amount and the residents took their case to the town and county commissioners, who have extended millions of dollars in incentives and infrastructure support to the company. You can witness their testimonies in our Facebook page

The Liaison and the families are united in our resolve to reach an agreement with Mountaire. We have a verbal agreement that the residents will not pay lot rent as of November and can move out by July 31st, instead of the original May 7th eviction notice. We hope to resolve this impasse and reach an amicable agreement with Mountaire very soon.

 

 

 

Chicken plant evicting more than 100 residents

Join us in support of the residents on Monday, 3/19 at 6 PM at the Historic Courthouse
in Pittsboro ~ presentation to Chatham County Commmissioners.

Mountaire Farms is evicting more than 100 low-income adults and children from their homes at Johnson’s Mobile Home Park in Siler City to “make room” for their large poultry processing plant.

On March 5th, the residents held a press conference at Siler City Town Hall followed by a meeting with the Town Commissioners. The majority are Hispanic, this is their story.

CBS news coverage

Johnson’s is home to over 50 children and 60 adults; 24 of the children are enrolled in our local schools. The residents own their mobile homes and have invested an average of $10,000 per family in the purchase and repairs. Most were built in the 1970’s and cannot be moved to a new location. Now, the families must abandon their homes and find a place to live in the next few months.

 

Siler City and Chatham County signed agreements with Mountaire worth millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives, property tax discounts and infrastructure support. These families have lived in Siler City and at Johnson’s for many years and are tax-payers too. Many of whom will be Mountaire’s future employees.

 

Through no fault of their own, families will go from being homeowners to facing homelessness, exacerbating and exposing the serious lack of affordable and decent housing in Siler City.

Last November, Mountaire purchased Johnson’s Mobile Home Park without offering any assistance to the residents for the loss of their homes, relocation expenses or the disruption in their lives. Instead, Mountaire sent residents an eviction notice to vacate the property by May 7th, as is required by law.

Mountaire’s Corporate Responsibility Pledge states that they “focus resources and efforts to help communities…including providing support…to individual and families in crisis situations”.

The families at Johnson’s Mobile Home Park are facing a crisis situation. Mountaire is causing these families extreme emotional distress and undue financial hardships. Their hardships are already reverberating throughout local government agencies, social services, non-profits, schools and health care providers.

In January, we were finally able to bring Mountaire to the table to speak with the families. At the meeting, residents shared their concerns and asked for a legitimate and just financial compensation for their losses. The company’s representative pledged to “do the right thing for these families” because Mountaire “wants to be a good neighbor for Siler City and Chatham County”.

For the past 7 weeks, we have engaged in good faith negotiations with Mountaire. We were closer to an agreement when we reached an impasse that has yet to be resolved.

The residents also asked the town and county for a list of available rental properties in Siler City. The list we received confirms the severe lack of affordable housing, which means that these families could face homelessness, overcrowding, or having to move out of the city and county where they have built their lives and contributed to its economic growth and prosperity.

 

We urge Mountaire to keep their promise to “do the right thing for these families”. We also urge the town and county address the serious lack of affordable and decent housing in Siler City.   

Thank you Siler City Rotary Club!

A huge thanks to the Rotary Club of Siler City for their generous $2,500 donation for our Orgullo Latinx Pride Youth Program! This is our first grant from the local Rotary Club.

We are grateful for their leadership in the community and for helping so many non-profits in Siler City.

There’s still time to help!

Thank you to Ms. Natalia and Mr. Salvador for their wonderful testimonial about The Hispanic Liaison!
We are here to help hundreds of immigrants and their children adjust to life in the U.S. and fight for a more just society. But we can only continue our important work with your help!
Click here to donate
We depend on generous donors like you for 20% of our annual expenses. Can we count on you to help families like Natalia’s? Every dollar helps. Thank you for your generosity!

Our campaign ends on January 3rd! 

A great day at Fiesta 2017!

The 5th Annual Hispanic Heritage Fiesta was a huge success and our biggest one yet!  Over 600 diverse participants enjoyed a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon of live music, traditional dances, delicious food, an art exhibit, Health Fair, and kids’ activities.

This year, we closed two blocks of downtown Siler City and held our first parade of traditional Latin American outfits! The parade was led by the amazing giant puppets of Folkloric Group Flor y Canto, followed by adults and children dressed in traditional clothing, and closed by the stunning indigenous dance group Azteca Tonathzin. They paraded down Chatham Avenue toward the stage at the Courtyard Café.

         

          

More photos and videos on our Facebook page

We hosted 42 information booths from non-profits, governmental agencies, businesses and craft vendors. Other new activities included Niñolandia, a tent for kids’ activities, and a Health Fair with 10 information booths from health service providers.

Folkloric dances were performed by three extraordinary dance groups – the young children and teens of Magetsi 4H Club of Sanford, teens and adults from Takiri Folclor Latino of Durham, and the indigenous dance group Azteca Tonathzin of Raleigh. There were also three musical groups – the talented and long-time friends of El Vínculo, Folkloric Group Flor y Canto from Raleigh, the soulful Alberto Zárraga from Raleigh, and Ancestor Piratas, led by Peruvian born singer, composer and artist Renzo Ortega of Carrboro. Renzo also displayed his paintings in the Arts Incubator gallery.

Fiesta was only possible thanks to the generous support of 35 sponsors and over 50 volunteers! A special thanks to the Courtyard Café, Siler City Arts Incubator, Downtown Music Series and the Town of Siler City for all their help. A huge thanks to our Fiesta Organizing Committee, which included community members and representatives from CCCC, CIS, Chatham Health Department and FVRC. A shout out to Elena Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Estrada for selling churros and popcorn to raise funds for El Vínculo. We could not have done it without all of you!

Our raffle was also a bit hit and the 4 winners were thrilled with their prizes – the first prize of $200 in cash went to a 12-year old Latinx boy from Siler City, a deliciously large chocoflan cake by Chef Elena Gonzalez was won by Karen Howard of Siler City, 4 day-passes to Shakori Hills Music Festival went to Brooke Simmons, and a $30 gift certificate to Los Compadres Restaurant was awarded to a Siler City resident.

Mil gracias to all!

Many thanks to our generous VIP Sponsors!

        

 

                      

 

    

DACA Update

On September 5, President Trump announced the termination of the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This temporary relief was implemented in 2012 by President Obama, and granted work authorization and relief from deportation in 2-year increments for youth who were brought to the United States by their parents, passed a background check and paid a fee. DACA does not offer a path to full legalization or citizenship.

According to the NC Justice Center, there are “approximately 1.5 million individuals enrolled in the program (across the nation). In North Carolina, there are currently 49,712 DACA recipients”.  This decision has led to a profound instability in the lives of these youth and their families. The Trump administration is leaving it up to Congress to pass legislation for undocumented immigrants that benefited from DACA. Communities have begun to organize as the six-month deadline approaches and the congressional action becomes more urgent. Advocates are encouraging a clean DREAM Act ~ HB3440 (in the House) and SB 1615 (in the Senate), reintroduced by Senators Graham and Durbin.

The window of opportunity for DACA renewal was incredibly narrow ~ only those whose DACA expired between 9/5/17 and 3/5/18, giving them only until 10/5 to submit their renewal applications.  Of the 154,234 DACA beneficiaries whose benefits expire before next March, at least 36,000 did not submit their renewal applications. The reasons are fully clear, but may include fear of what USCIS could do with their information, inability to pay the $495 renewal fee, or because they could not find help in time to complete their application.

The Hispanic Liaison, along with many other non-profit and legal organizations across the state scrambled to help DACA youth. In late September and early October, free legal clinics were held across the state, and national and local donors established scholarship funds for the $495 renewal fee. Several area donors helped The Liaison create a modest scholarship fund. Sadly, the ability of organizations to mobilize came too late. Many eligible applicants had already submitted their application weeks before the free clinics were held.  We are hopeful that there may be a new window of opportunity for DACA youth and are setting aside the donations to our scholarship funds for that purpose.

We started a support and action group for directly impacted individuals and/or DACA recipients. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Emilio Vicente, Adult Leadership Program Manager.
Click here for a policy brief on DACA from the NC Justice Center.
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