04/11/07 — Hispanic future: Dealing with multi-cultural future key for area counties

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Hispanic future: Dealing with multi-cultural future key for area counties

Immigration — illegal or otherwise — is a topic North Carolina residents are starting to talk about more often.

And for some counties, like Duplin and — to a lesser extent — Wayne, the topic is becoming one that is not just about borders and papers anymore.

With an ever-increasing Hispanic population in this county, there are many programs that are starting to take a look at what is needed to meet the needs of both legal immigrants and those who are here illegally.

And no matter which side you are on in the illegal immigration debate, the fact remains that you will be affected not just by who is here now, but who will come in the future.

Until the national government reaches a decision on what to do about closing U.S. borders, the reality is there are people here who need services and regulation — and that money has to come from somewhere.

Many programs across the area are already thinking about how to provide more health care, educational opportunities and other services to the burgeoning Spanish-speaking population. And like it or not, that is an investment now that could mean less expense later.

And while private and public industries are talking about meeting these demands, Wayne County officials should have a design of their own — and a budget — for dealing with the increased costs that come with this sort of influx. Until the government tells them otherwise, county officials will have to be prepared with funds and programs to serve this new community.

The immigration debate is not over, but waiting for a definitive answer from the federal government is not practical or possible. This is an issue that needs to be addressed now.

Published in Editorials on April 11, 2007 11:05 AM