Fo­rum airs is­sues on im­mi­gra­tion

Record Observer - - Front Page - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

MARY­DEL — About 300 peo­ple at­tended an im­mi­gra­tion in­for­ma­tional fo­rum Feb. 24 in Mary­del where they heard le­gal ad­vice about the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties in de­por­ta­tion and how im­mi­grants, le­gal and il­le­gal, should han­dle their af­fairs.

The guest speaker was Alan Hub­bard from the con­sular sec­tion of the Mex­i­can Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton,

D.C. He’s cur­rently in charge of the con­sular pro­tec­tion de­part­ment as well as han­dling in­ter­na­tional le­gal is­sues.

His en­tire speech was in Span­ish for the mostly Span­ish-speaking im­mi­grant crowd, in­clud­ing some peo­ple who had fears about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion po­lices.

Af­ter his speech, Hub­bard gave a sum­mary of his speech in English.

“First, my main point is to stay calm,” Hub­bard said. “The pri­or­i­ties (of de­por­ta­tion) are still (peo­ple with) crim­i­nal records. The im­mi­gra­tion of­fice is not do­ing raids, (but) fo­cus­ing on peo­ple with crim­i­nal records.”

His sec­ond main point, he said, was for the im­mi­grant to get a “con­sul­ta­tion with an im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney be­cause you never know, you might qual­ify for a le­gal rem­edy and avoid de­por­ta­tion.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Gu­atemala, Mex­ico, Hon­duras and El Sal­va­tor are pulling re­sources to­gether and will have a joint im­mi­gra­tion in­for­ma­tion web­site soon, Hub­bard said.

He then, again, re­it­er­ated his main point. U.S. im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties “aren’t pick­ing peo­ple of f the street. They tar­get peo­ple with a crim­i­nal record.”

The fo­rum also in­cluded a ses­sion where mem­bers of the au­di­ence asked a group of about eight pan­elists ques­tions about im­mi­gra­tion is­sues with the new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. One of the pan­elists was Klau­dia Hall, an at­tor­ney from Ocean City.

It used to be that U.S. im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials pri­or­i­tized un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants for de­por­ta­tion if they com­mit­ted se­ri­ous crimes, but now peo­ple who are just charged with a crime and for any of­fense are con­sid­ered a pri­or­ity, Hall said.

Hall cited a case where some­one was found not guilty of a sex­ual of­fense, but was picked up for vi­o­la­tion of a pro­tec­tion or­der and de­ported. She warned that “agen­cies talk to each other.”

She also told the crowd that, if their chil­dren are born in United States, they are Amer­i­cans and can get ben­e­fits, but she warned that an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant shouldn’t get their name on an of­fi­cial card of any kind.

The pan­elists also talked about the dan­ger of tak­ing ad­vice from a no­tary, which is con­fus­ing to Mex­i­cans be­cause a no­tary is a lawyer in Mex­ico, but not in the United States. Also, the pan­elists urged the crowd to see a li­censed lawyer for ad­vice about their im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus and to get their pa­per­work to­gether be­cause, if they are de­tained, it will be dif­fi­cult for fam­ily and friends to get the ma­te­rial to­gether.

One au­di­ence mem­ber asked if their le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dency is trou­ble if they live with un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Ra­mon Gras, a lawyer from Eas­ton and a pan­elist, said there’s no risk to the le­gal im­mi­grant if they live with un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

Nina Qureshi, an­other at­tor­ney on the panel, said if a par­ent tries to smug­gle chil­dren into the United States, the par­ent could lose their green card.

Af­ter the ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion, the au­di­ence broke up into dif­fer­ent ses­sions to dis­cuss im­mi­gra­tion le­gal is­sues. Many of them praised the fo­rum for ad­dress­ing the is­sue.

The fo­rum “demon­strated the need and the con­cerns of the His­panic/Latino peo­ple and the last ex­ec­u­tive or­der made by the pres­i­dent of the United States Don­ald Trump,” said Car­los Reyes of Dover, who is co­or­di­na­tor of the His­panic/Latino Min­istries of the Penin­sula-Delaware Con­fer­ence of the United Methodist Church.

Reyes, who has a green card, said Lati­nos and His­pan­ics are wor­ried about Trump de­port­ing un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents. The fear, he said, stems from the un­cer­tainty Trump’s lat­est memo has gen­er­ated. The memo, he said, doesn’t give enough specifics, and it’s too broad.

Oyuki Galan of Sudlersville said her fa­ther was de­tained be­cause he was an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant, but he was re­leased. “I want to know the next thing to do and what if [Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment] caught him on a raid and I want to know what’s go­ing to hap­pen. He’s been re­leased,” she said.

Vanessa Reyes of Eas­ton praised the fo­rum. “As a Latina and an im­mi­grant my­self, I want to say this event was a great suc­cess. It was in­for­ma­tive and will bring peace of mind to those who at­tended.”

Peo­ple in the au­di­ence came from Queen Anne’s, Tal­bot, Kent and Caroline coun­ties in Mary­land and parts of Delaware, but they orig­i­nally are from Mex­ico, Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Hon­do­ras, said El­iz­a­beth Miller, co­or­di­na­tor of the Judy Cen­ter Part­ner­ship of Queen Anne’s County, which was one of the spon­sors of the fo­rum.

The fo­rum was also spon­sored by the Fam­ily Cen­ter of Queen Anne’s County, Greens­boro Judy Cen­ter, the Caroline County Fam­ily Sup­port Cen­ter, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Mul­ti­cul­tural Re­source Cen­ter.

Miller was happy with the fo­rum’s out­come.

“It’s be­yond my wildest ex­pec­ta­tion. I’m very pleased with the turnout, and I’m very pleased with the qual­ity of le­gal coun­sel and pre­sen­ters we had at the event,” Miller said.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

More than 300 peo­ple at­tended an in­for­ma­tional fo­rum on Feb. 24 in Mary­del. The event in­cluded a guest speaker, a ques­tion/ an­swer ses­sion, and break­out ses­sions.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Alan Hub­bard with the con­sular sec­tion of the Mex­i­can Em­bassy was the guest speaker at an in­for­ma­tional fo­rum held in Mary­del on Feb. 24. He told the crowd of about 300 to re­main calm about pos­si­ble de­por­ta­tion. He said U.S. of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing those with a crim­i­nal record as a pri­or­ity to de­por­ta­tion.

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