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Educating New Yorkers on Immigrant Rights

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Residents from around the city prepare for the worst, as they attend information sessions and workshops on immigrant rights in Upper Manhattan and Lower East Side, in the face of possible immigration raids and regulatory or arbitrary encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and NYPD officers.

Following the confusion and uncertainty generated by the anti-immigrant executive order of President Donald J. Trump, many seek help to release their fears and doubts.

“With all this disorder, every day, every step is uncertain for those who are immigrants in this country,” said María Eugenia Gómez, 53, who has lived in Brooklyn for the past 16 years and fears for the future of her grandchildren.

Residents of Lower East Side spoke with Javier Ramírez, director of Cabrini Immigrant Services during the workshop last Thursday, January 26, 2017.
Residents of Lower East Side spoke with Javier Ramírez, director of Cabrini Immigrant Services during the workshop last Thursday, January 26, 2017.

Gómez, from Mexico City, attended the workshop organized by Cabrini Immigrant Services, a community group that offers cultural, legal and language services to immigrants, refugees and asylums in the Lower East Side. At least 45 residents participated in the January workshop, where they discussed best practices upon raids and management plans for affected immigrant families.

“We’re hopeful the city will remain as a sanctuary, that local representatives will defend the community and that local actors will not collaborate with ICE, but we have to prepare people for the worst of the scenarios in case something happens,” said Ella Nimmo, 25, community affairs coordinator for Cabrini Immigrant Services.

New York is one of the 300 jurisdictions that present a policy that limits local cooperation with immigration authorities, where at least three million foreign-born residents live, according to the 2013 edition of The Newest New Yorker.

A family management plan for those affected may include:

-Designate a family member to document the entire process.
-Search your lawyer before something happens.
-Have the lawyer’s number with you.
-Take copies of all your identification documents.


In immigration raids, the immigrant has the right to:

  • Do not open the door under any circumstances until you read a search warrant signed by a judge..
  • Stay quiet.
  • Talk to your lawyer.
  • Do not sign any documents, without first hand advice from your lawyer.
  • Inform that you have children or are the primary guardian of a minor.

At the Collegiate Church in Washington Heights, the Northern Manhattan Immigrant Rights Coalition (NMCIR) organized an “emergency info session”, in which they addressed deportation proceedings, documented and unauthorized immigrant rights and the policies that affect DACA recipients and green card holders (also, known as permanent residents).

“Do not adjust your immigration status or start a citizenship process on your own. Consult with a lawyer before submitting a petition for your relative or for yourself,” advised Ángela Fernández, 46, executive director for the NMCIR.

In Inwood, representatives of the civil organization Uptown Progressive Action presented solutions and ideas to protect all residents, in a meeting held at the neighborhood’s New York Public Library.

Tereza Lee, pionera del movimiento DACA, lideró una lluvia de ideas para apoyar a los inmigrantes del Alto Manhattan en el taller del 8 de enero de 2017.
Tereza Lee, pionera del movimiento DACA, lideró una lluvia de ideas para apoyar a los inmigrantes del Alto Manhattan en el taller del 8 de enero de 2017.

“This is a country of immigrants, a country that prides itself on its history and we must not lose that in this political hysteria that we are going through right now,” said Alfred Wegener, 64, a descendant of Danish and Irish families, who proposes that religious centers work as sanctuaries for immigrants.

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