Forum airs issues on immigration
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.
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.
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.