Inform, Protect & Defend: Our role as Immigrant Allies Forum

 

On Saturday, November 18th, Silicon Valley Latino and San Jose City College (SJCC) hosted a highly engaging, informative and stimulating forum related to the post-DACA landscape and the topic of immigration reform. This timely event was hosted by Jorge Escobar, Vice President at San Jose City College at the new SJCC Milpitas Extension.

The event was called “Inform, Protect & Defend: Our role as Immigrant Allies” and the convening featured a panel of immigration experts who discussed the current immigration landscape, what we could do to protect the rights of our vulnerable immigrant communities and ways to engage, advocate and support these efforts. The panel also offered the audience detailed facts and examples on what is happening on local, state and federal levels around immigration policy, ICE activities and so much more.

The forum was moderated by Zulma Maciel, Director of The City of San Jose’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. The panel featured Nikki Marquez from The Immigration Legal Resource Center, Mariela Garcia from Sacred Heart Community Service and from the Santa Clara County, Deputy District Attorney, Josue Fuentes.

All three panelists provided a unique and insightful perspective of what is happening and what we can do to help defend misinformation and assist in keeping those at-risk safe. First, they helped de-mystifying some of the rumors and fears that are circulating in our communities. They also talked about how ICE agents have been using questionable tactics in creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation throughout specific communities. When in fact, ICE agents need to follow proper law enforcement tactics and procedures to detain anyone. That includes having a warrant. They also informed the audience that anyone living in this country has the right to an attorney as well as the right to remain silent.

The most critical lesson any person can learn is that immigrants living in this country have just the same rights when it comes to law enforcement. A witness to a crime, a person volunteering at civic events, peaceful protestors and traffic violations are all protected from illegal and unnecessary investigation of a person’s citizenship.

The issue is indeed a complicated legal one. That’s why Sacred Hearts Community Services has provided a 24 hour Rapid Response Hotline. The Rapid Response Network in Santa Clara County (RRN) is a community defense project developed to protect immigrant families from deportation threats from the federal administration, and to provide moral and accompaniment support during and after immigration operations in our community. It is a 24/7 hotline that community members can call to report any ICE operations in our county and receive help in real life time.

Any concerned community member that witnesses immigration enforcement activity in Santa Clara County can call the hotline number 24/7. Please note this is not a general information line, if you need general immigration services contact a community based organization in your area.

When you call the RRN line the dispatcher that received the call will support the community member in asserting their rights, and will dispatch trained Rapid Responders to the impacted site.

If immigration enforcement is confirmed, the Rapid Responders will conduct legal observation, collect evidence that may support the immigration case of the impacted family, and provide moral support and accompaniment to the impacted family. If a community member is detained, they will be connected to immigration attorneys for legal counsel and provide additional support. They want to make sure no community member has to go through this on their own.

This is a collaborative project led by Sacred Heart Community Service, PACT, Pangea Legal Services, LUNA, SIREN, CARAS, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, the South Bay Labor Council, the City of San Jose Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Santa Clara County Office of Immigrant Relations.

The most prominent and encouraging defense here in Santa Clara County has been the establishment of The Rapid Response Hotline. This is a direct number to a bank of trained responders who can instantly aid and provide legal help and protocol instantly.

Indeed, many questions persist on the immigration front. Fear runs deep as our at-risk community members are so uncertain about their status in this country and what the future holds.

There are many things we can do as immigrant allies in the community. Saturday’s panel provided 10 action items we can do as immigrant allies to help protect and defend our neighbors.

 

JOIN THE RAPID RESPONSE NETWORK: Protect our undocumented community when they face ICE action. Rapid Responders will record the action of ICE agents and provide support to individuals and families. For more information or to register for a Rapid Response Training visit: http://sacredheartcs.org/rrn/. For questions, contact Rosa DeLeon at ROSAD@sacredheartcs.org.

SPREAD THE WORD: Distribute Know Your Rights (KYR) red cards and Hotline cards to friends, family, places of worship, schools, businesses patronized by Limited-English speakers, etc. For more information on red cards, visit https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards. If you would like to pick up cards from the San Jose Office of Immigrant Affairs, please email ImmigrantAffaris@sanjoseca.gov

ENCOURAGE CITIZENSHIP:

– Support family members and friends who are legal permanent residents to    naturalize.          Visit the New Americans Campaign to learn about citizenship workshops in your event as        well      as information on how you can volunteer: http://newamericanscampaign.org/citizenship-events/.

– Encourage your employer to host a free citizenship workshop for its employees. Contact Monisha Merchant at the New American Workforce: mmerchant@immigrationforum.org

SUPPORT CENSUS 2020 WORK: Volunteer to reach hard-to-count individuals so that everyone is counted. The first opportunity is during Spring 2018, email Zulma Maciel for more information: Zulma.maciel@sanjosca.gov.

JOIN PRO-BONO RESPONSE NETWORK: To help meet the demand for legal services, attorneys and law students are encouraged to sign-up for the statewide Immigration Pro Bono Response network at https://onejustice.org/ourprograms/immigration/.

ATTEND AN EVENT: Show your support for local immigrant and refugee communities. To find an event near you visit http://www.immigrantinfo.org/

STAY INFORMED: LIKE San Jose Office of Immigrant Affairs on Facebook   www.Facebook.com/ImmigrantAffairs.

CALL OR TWEET CONGRESS: Members of Congress need to hear from you. Please urge representatives to act swiftly to pass a clean Dream Act – a permanent legislative solution that provides a pathway toward citizenship for DACA recipients and Dreamers. Visit the ACLU’s Clean Dream Act website for a sample script and to be connected to your Senator:   https://goo.gl/b1ndws.

DISPLAY A WELCOMING SIGN: Show your neighbors that you’re a “WELCOMER.” Pick up a lawn sign from the OIA, email ImmigrantAffaris@sanjoseca.gov.

REPORT NOTARIO FRAUD: Unfortunately, there are people taking advantage of the immigrant community by charging for immigration services that they never provide. Visit United We Dreams’ website for more information on how you can report these activities: https://unitedwedream.org/action/help-stop-fraud/.

 

Silicon Valley Latino appreciates the support of all who attended this convening and their interest to be informed as well as their desire to act as immigrant allies. We were also delighted to have the support and attendance of community and education leaders like City of Milpitas Councilmember, Bob Nuñez, Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent, Cheryl Jordan and education champion and The Center for Latino Education and Innovation and The Maestros Accelerator Program, Executive Director, Dr. David Lopez. We were also pleased to see many local high school students in attendance with interest in becoming advocates to this important issue.  All were truly encouraged to hear real action is being done to protect hard working families, students and those who hold that dream of a better life here in America. We at Silicon Valley Latino were also proud to participate in an afternoon of hope, change and ACTION.