IIAC Immigration Meeting / Main Ideas Feb 8th, 2017

Carlene Thissen sent in below notes from our last IIAC meeting.

Angela Cisneros passed out a several-page notebook for immigrants called “Conozca Sus Derechos!” or Know your Rights! It is only available in Spanish. She explained that her parents were undocumented farm workers until IRCA in 1986.

Also included in that folder was a flyer with the message in English:

“To Whom Ii May Concern: Please be informed that I am choosing to exercise my right to remain silent and the right to refuse to answer your questions. If I am detained, I request to contact an attorney immediately. I am also exercising my right to refuse to sign anything until I consult with my lawyer. “

Talk about 287-G, the deal between ICE and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

We are one of only two counties in Florida with this agreement. She told about one lady, a mother of two, with no violations. The police were behind her, ran her license plate and it (or her license) were expired. She was picked up and handed over to ICE. They also check to see if the registered owner has a valid driver’s license. If not, they look at the photo on their system, pull up to the driver and if the face is the one in the picture, they pull them over.

Sister Maureen said Trump wants police not just to check the driver but everyone in the car when the driver is stopped.

Andres Ruiz from the Mexican Consulate, said they are preparing community education about raids and checkpoints, with “know your rights” cards in English and Spanish. They have a legal affairs department that provides information to people who are jailed.

The advice is, if you have children, own property, or take care of aging parents, make sure you assign someone you trust with your documents. It is also important to register children of undocumented parents. He is also coordinating with consulates of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

There was a rally last weekend at the courthouse with 250 people: Collier forDreamers. She had a petition against 287-G that many of us signed and postcards that could be mailed in.

Juan Medina said Collier County has the largest farmworker population in Florida and is one of the top 3 counties in the U.S.

Rosa Martinez, outreach work with FSU medical center, said children are stressed, afraid to go home. Immokalee has many people in a stressed condition.

The main panel was Sister Maureen Kelleher and Eloise Ayalla, who just came to work with Sister Maureen, and Mr. Sal Bazaz, PA a criminal attorney and former judge candidate.2

Question and Answers

A judge has to ask if someone is guilty or not.

Important: A plead to any criminal proceedings WILL be used against you in a deportation hearing. Judges should say (and most do), “If you plead guilty you WILL be deported. Judges should also ask, “Did you speak to an immigration attorney?”

Sister Maureen said memos have already gone from the white house to ICE about how they are to proceed. People are held, and an immigration representative comes in and checks their status. They used to put ankle bracelets on people and let them go, but now they’d rather keep the individuals in jail.

Jeff Sessions wants the 11 million undocumented people in the country reduced to 5 million. There are only two options left:

  1. Cancellation – the defense if a spouse or child will suffer extreme hardship without the undocumented person
  2. Asylum – if the person has a credible fear of being killed if they return. She said that is really hard to prove now.

DACA (Deferred Action Child Act program) is still going, for now.

Eloise Ayalla just joined Sister Maureen from Mexico, Colombia and here. Her mission is to work with children – unaccompanied minors who came across the border alone. Her options to help the children are the same as Sister Maureen’s for adults, except maybe one more. She left a sheet about rights, e.g. you don’t have to open the door if they knock.

Also important to get Power of Attorney and make sure the children know who to call. And identify relatives where the children should go if the parents are deported. Otherwise, they can end up in foster care.

If anyone is eligible for citizenship, they need to do it NOW. A green card can be taken away. The only sure way to stay is to become a citizen.

Sister Maureen said that if you’re deported and decide to take your “citizen children” with you back to your home country, get them a U.S. passport. Birth Certificates are not enough and hard to prove they are real. Two parents have to apply unless there is a custody order.

She talked about the Guatemalans in Devil’s Garden in 1985 who were picked up but said NOTHING and answered not a single question. So they were not able to prosecute them.

The general recommendation for unauthorized immigrants was to stay out of the spotlight. No bars, no fights, no loitering late at night in parking lots. SisterMaureen also suggested not driving cars with bumper stickers and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe on them, or fringe in your windows, etc. It makes you more of a target.

IF you have an out-of- country driver’s license, police may not recognize it. They might decide it’s invalid even if it’s good.

Juan Median asked if people should stop applying for food stamps on behalf of citizen children. Sister Maureen said the potential exists to track people via food stamps or school lunch programs. Trump’s administration could use that information to show the general population how much undocumented immigrants cost them. She thought it was less likely that the IRS will give in to pressure.

Trump is starting with 1. Criminals and 2. People who might be criminals, meaning “possible crime.” Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor, and that could be considered “possible crime.”

Discussion about domestic violence.

If you’re a victim, even if you’re undocumented, you have rights to be protected. Report it! Abusive spouses often threaten their wives with deportation if they report. There is a “U-Visa” for victims of domestic abuse OR victims of street crimes. The U-visa goes all the way to a green card.

There is a proposal in Congress that the number of available visas will be cut in half.

Phone numbers we should call:

  • Senator Rubio – 202-224- 3041,
  • Mario Diaz Ballard 202-225- 4211,
  • main switchboard 202-224- 3121 for Bill Nelson.

So far the meeting notes.

Take These Hands video.
by Carlene Thissen.
It is loosely the story of Immokalee’s Fields of Hope, illustrated by the first song Carlene ever wrote and a lot of old and new footage from home countries and Immokalee.

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