Fighting for the short end of the stick? Meetings like this reinforce the sense that poor citizens have something to fear from immigrants, illegal or otherwise. Really, they could use the same arguments to limit legal immigration.

– More than a dozen Charlotteans, many frustrated with growth of the illegal immigrant immigration population, met Saturday to discuss how African Americans are impacted by the growth of the undocumented community.

Maria Macon, chairwoman of the Millions More Movement of Charlotte, which hosted the event at Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church, said that, until now, African American voices have been mostly left out of the immigration debate.

Tensions exist between some groups of African Americans and Hispanics over competition for jobs, decreased wages and the disbanding of certain historically black neighborhoods.

Queen Thompson, 60, worries about a strain on schools and hospitals.

“There must be some regulation on the number of people who can come to a community,” said Thompson, a counseling psychologist.

Limiting access to the community is such a pre-modern idea. After all, in a m0dern republic, anyone can live anywhere because citizenship is granted by the state, and the only meaningful community to which the individual belongs is the nation.

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The symposium also demonstrated that illegal immigration issues extend beyond Latin America.

Rosaline Russell, a native of Liberia, said many people from Africa come to the United States in search of a better life.

“It’s not just a Hispanic issue,” said Russell, 29, who moved to the United States eight years ago and is now a U.S. citizen. “It’s also a West Africa issue, an Africa issue. It’s an everybody issue.”

Macon said African-Americas are suffering economically because of the growth of the illegal immigrant community, but that the groups can work together to improve lives and working conditions.

“It’s important that we speak up because we have gone through some of the same things the Hispanic community is going through,” she said.