Hispanics in Lowcountry face more challenges besides learning new language
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An organization says around 100 Hispanic families are moving to the Lowcountry every week, and they are facing more challenges other than learning a new language.
The Charleston Hispanic Association said Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the Lowcountry, yet also one of the fastest growing poverty groups in the U.S.
CFO Enrique Grace says there are large concentrations of Hispanics in Hanahan, Goose Creek, North Charleston and Moncks Corner. Some are living paycheck to paycheck.
“First thing they want to do is get a job,” Grace said, “and when you get a job in the United States, you got to get a car, so they’re buying cars, but they can’t get a driver’s license, and without a driver’s license, they can’t get good insurance.”
Grace said learning about the resources available to Hispanics once they move to the Lowcountry poses another challenge.
“A lot of Hispanics will start a business, but they don’t start it correctly,” Grace said. “They don’t have all the permits. They don’t have the federal tax ID in place because they don’t know.”
Francisco Cobb says he came over illegally from Costa Rica in the mid-2000s before moving to the Lowcountry.
“We’re swimming in the [Rio Grande], 40 degrees water,” he said about his journey crossing the border.
For the first few months in the U.S., he said he did not know the language and had to depend on the generosity of others to survive.
“I have to do something to survive because I had no house, I had no car,” Cobb said. “I lived for three months under a bridge in Hilton Head.”
Now working as an office manager in West Ashley, Cobb volunteers with the association whenever possible.
To this day, he is not a U-S citizen—though he is here as a permanent resident - and he has not gone back to see his family in Costa Rica in over 15 years.
“My grandmother died two years ago, and I was here,” Cobb said. “The only thing I have to watch is what’s on a little camera.”
Cobb said his attorneys believe he has about another year before he becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Below is a list of resources available to Hispanics and others in need of assistance:
- Free English classes – The Church of Latter-Day Saints in North Charleston hosts free English classes each Tuesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Charleston Hispanic Association – The Charleston Hispanic Association hosts weekly food drives and giveaways.
- Lowcountry Food Bank
- Free medical clinic - Shifa Clinic
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