Highline in solidarity with immigrants

By Cinthia Velez-Regalado - Staff Reporter



Undocumented residents in the United States still have options when it comes to dealing with the Trump administration's efforts to deport them. 

However, if immigration officials should confront you, you should keep in mind several dos and don'ts. 

These suggestions were among many offered at a forum Saturday in the Student Union aimed at helping undocumented residents. 

Raul Alvarez, the development and communications coordinator of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, made his presentation in Spanish. The room held double the number of people compared to the English language presentation.

Jorge L. Baron, the executive director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, spoke in Mt. Constance in English.

"There is no illegal person, there is only undocumented people," said Alvarez. 

Tell your children the truth if you're undocumented, said Alvarez.

"Children need to know the truth. How many cases have we heard about parents getting picked up by immigration and never picking up their children from school," said Alvarez. "Never let children open the door if it's an immigration officer."

Be prepared and make a plan to arrange for someone to care for your children if you're detained, he said. 

"Don't stand behind the door. Always stand to the side of the door, in case they knock it down. That way they don't say you were preventing them from coming into the household. That way you could probably sue them for barging into your household," said Alvarez. 

 "Every day that you spend worrying about the president, it's a day that you didn't spend with your children and family," said Alvarez.

Attendees said they appreciated the information.

Teresa, a full-time student at Highline, has been in the United States for 15 years. 

"I came today because information is power and weakens the fears," said Teresa. 

"I came today to be prepared, and to share with my community," said Norma, an ESL student. Norma has been in the United States for 22 years. 

"If we worry over something we don't have control then we're finished," said Alvarez. "You don't have control over what's happening." 

"I know of several coworkers and family members that could be effected by these executive orders," said Maria, an ESL student at Highline. Maria has been in the United States for 15 years.

Meanwhile in Mt. Constance, Jorge Baron spoke on Trump's attempt to ban Muslims from coming to the United States.

On Jan. 25, one of the executive orders signed by the president was "enhancing public safety in the interior of the United States," said Baron.

The order included increasing the number of immigration officers at the border. It also included taking away funding from sanctuary communities. 

King County is a sanctuary community, said Baron. 

 "They won't be felt now but later on in our communities," said Baron. They will "happen over time. It won't be felt immediately." 

"Being a sanctuary county means that the King County jail will not hold people for immigration," he said. 

That doesn't mean that immigration won't arrest you, but that jails won't hold you for immigration, said Baron.

"Any contact with local authorities," can be even harsher, he said. "Anyone can be affected, even people with a status." 

The funding "would mostly be law enforcement grants lost," he said. "This can be challenged though."

On Jan. 27, a "Travel Ban" Executive Order was also signed by President Trump.

The order included the suspension of Refugee Resettlement Program for 120 days.

The order also included a temporary travel banned from citizens of seven countries. The seven countries are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya for 90 days. But among these countries, Syria is indefinitely suspended, said Baron.

The excuse used to justify this was that they needed to update their screening process, he said. 

Baron informed everyone of their rights commonly forgotten by immigrants.

"Know your rights, you have the right to remain silent," said Baron. "Ask questions frequently all the time."

The Bill of Rights applies to anybody in the United States, whether they are undocumented or not, said Barron.

"You have the right to remain safely at home. If you don't to open the door they're just going to go away," he said. 

Immigration and customs enforcement officers "need a warrant signed by a judge [in order to come into your house]," said Baron.

"You have a right to a hearing. You have the right to explain why you should be able to stay here," said Baron.

"You have a right to labor protection rights, you have a right to minimum wage," he said. 

"I know a lot of the time people stay silent and get taken advantage of because they're undocumented," said Baron.

"Please don't let people get taken advantage of," he said.

Don't sign anything, said Baron. "Some people can be released on a bond." 

DACA will be ended, said Baron. 

DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was an executive order signed by president Barack Obama, which allowed undocumented people that came to the United as minors to receive a permit to work legally and go to school.

It is highly unlikely that they will start deporting people that had DACA, he said. 

"I know of two people with DACA that could be effected," said Jazmin an ESL student.

Nonetheless, people said they were glad for the information.

"My mom and I came to the United States 17 years ago," said Kelly. "I came to get information to support those that need it, stand in the gap for people."

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