Photo: N. Carolina Undocumented
Delivery and shuttle services offered by supermarkets, restaurants and individuals in this North Carolina metropolis have become a solution for Hispanics without driver’s licenses, who avoid driving to keep from being deported.
For a mom to go shopping and take her kids to school, for the family to dine at a restaurant on Sunday after church, or for a worker to get something to eat at lunchtime, all that becomes terribly complicated without a driver’s license.
Due to the enactment in 2006 of the 287(g) program and of Secure Communities in 2010, which together have put more than 11,000 immigrants here in line for deportation, plus a law banning the undocumented from getting or renewing their driver’s licenses, the Hispanic community and local businesses have been forced to get more creative.
“It’s dangerous for us workers to drive in Charlotte because we don’t have licenses and the cops are watching for us. Sometimes we take the bus or get a lift from our friends,” the Guatemalan Erick Valdomar told Efe.
Valdomar, who works at an Indian supermarket, says he sometimes resorts to the services of restaurants that deliver lunches to save time at noon.
“We used to go eat in a group, but now it’s safer to stay here and order lunch in, and that way make sure none of us runs into cops along the way. And of course we like to eat Hispanic dishes,” the immigrant said.
The Guatemalan and his workmates enjoy the service provided by the Pollo Royal restaurant, whose owner Efrain Ortez personally delivers the orders.
Ortez, who started his business in 2006, noted that two years later there were fewer customers coming to his restaurant and by the end of 2008 he had lost 30 percent of his diners despite offering tasty fare at reasonable prices.
“Our business completely changed with the problem of driver’s licenses and immigrants without papers, not to mention the sagging economy,” Ortez told Efe.
In another part of the city, two passenger minivans pick up workers, mothers and their kids, and people in general every day.
The Atlantic Farmers supermarket chain, owned by a Vietnamese businessman, found it necessary to offer that service to win the Hispanic market.
“Many moms don’t drive, they’re housewives for whom transportation problems make life difficult, so we created this solution,” Maria de Jesus Marquez, the Hispanic-market coordinator for Atlantic Farmers, told Efe.