NC JUSTICE NEWS: Affordable Care Act + Concentrated Poverty + ICE Impersonator

March 20, 2012

CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE: Adam Searing honored for work on ACA

March 23 will mark the second anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Starting on March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases challenging the law.

Adam Searing, director of the NC Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition, has been one of the greatest proponents of the Affordable Care Act, and tomorrow, he'll be recognized for his efforts in Washington. On March 21, he’ll be honored as a “Champion of Change” as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” initiative in honor of his work to educate others on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act at an event at the White House.

Congratulations to Adam on his tremendous work!

CONCENTRATED POVERTY: Rate doubled from 2000 to 2006-2010

There are currently more than 100 areas of concentrated poverty across North Carolina – defined as areas with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher – and this rate has doubled from 2000 to 2006-2010, according to a new report.

The Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, reports that 143,445 North Carolinians who were poor lived in concentrated poverty in 2006-2010. During this period, both the number of concentrated-poverty neighborhoods across the state nearly tripled and the number of individuals living in these neighborhoods who were poor more than tripled.

The report also found that place and well-being are deeply connected. The disadvantage of being poor and residing in a poor neighborhood creates a concept known as the “double burden." Residents of concentrated-poverty neighborhoods face restricted access to jobs, education, and networks that can improve their situation, and living in areas of concentrated disadvantage while being poor can undermine both one’s economic and health opportunities. It is vital to focus on investments that support extending opportunity to all communities in order to build a more prosperous North Carolina, the report said.

"ICE" FRAUD: Man posing as immigration agent sentenced

Last fall, a Raleigh resident was arrested on charges of impersonating an immigration agent and defrauding immigrants. Seven months later, Tommie Rand Pierce has received a federal prison sentence for his fraudulent act, putting an end to a scheme that damaged hundreds of families across the U.S.

Pierce posed as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, going so far as to don clothing featuring the “ICE” logo and carrying a gun. Pierce defrauded as many as 265 immigrants across North Carolina and the U.S. by claiming he could get them legal status, and tricked these individuals into paying him $5,000 for the services. Kate Woomer-Deters, an attorney with the N.C. Justice Center, was responsible for notifying the federal authorities of Pierce’s dealings as a fraudulent ICE agent.

Instead of being granted the legal status they had sought and paid for, many of the individuals Pierce “helped” were in fact deported because the applicants had overstayed their visas or had entered the country undetected in the first place. Thanks to the efforts of Woomer-Deters and La Conexion, the Raleigh-based paper that first reported on Pierce’s actions, countless individuals and communities will be protected from future scams.

CHILD SAFETY: Protect rules for children working in agriculture

As our most vulnerable citizens, children deserve our protection, particularly when working for wages in a potentially dangerous industry such as agriculture, which continues to be the most dangerous industry for child workers. Three-quarters of children who died working for wages last year were killed while working on farms.

The Department of Labor recently proposed updates to 15 safeguards for children working in agriculture, while still allowing children to work on their parents’ farms. The new rules would prohibit children under 15 from participating into the top two leading causes of death in farms – driving tractors and working with animals in dangerous situations such as herding or branding – unless they participate in a comprehensive farm safety course.

These are common sense revisions. Yet the farm lobby is attempting to have these rules thrown out, insisting that children as young as 12 should still be allowed to work in hazardous conditions. The Department of Labor must stand firm on these rules to prevent the injury or death of children working on farms. Let them know where you stand on these changes by signing a petition, calling or writing your elected officials and members of congress, and sharing this information with friends and families.


The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Recipients will be announced in the upcoming weeks. Purchase your ticket today.

"OUT OF CONTROL" TOUR: Public forum in Wilmington

The General Assembly’s “midnight attack” on North Carolina’s teachers in January revealed a remarkable willingness to ram through an extreme agenda, no matter what it takes.

Please join N.C. Policy Watch and key progressive allies at a series of public forums that will explore: how North Carolina's extreme right-wing General Assembly is turning back the clock, who's bankrolling its agenda, and what it means for our lives. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share your perspective, too.

  • Wilmington: Wed., March 28, 7:00 p.m., ILA 1426 Hall, 1305 S. 5th Ave. Featured speakers: Rob Schofield, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Nancy Shakir. Register here.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: When government promotes gambling

For several years, corporate gambling interests have been ratcheting up their investments in North Carolina. Gambling money can be found in the campaign coffers of politicians of all stripes and gambling corporations are listed amongst the clients of several of the state’s top law and lobbying firms. The goal of these investments is clear: Gambling corporations seek not just to eliminate government as an impediment to gambling but to make public institutions full partners in their efforts.

Is it just a matter of time until North Carolina follows the road traveled by so many other states? Is the expansion of gambling something to be resisted or just a lost cause of which we should simply make the best? Join NC Policy Watch for a Crucial Conversation on this hotly contested issue, featuring Les Bernal, Executive Director of Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation, and Prof. Charles Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy Studies and Professor of Economics and Law at Duke University.

The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 12:00 p.m. at the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Click here to register for this event and contact Rob Schofield at with any questions.


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