- Title: Activists educate undocumented U.S. residents on their rights under Trump
- Date: 26th January 2017
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE ESCOBAR, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES AT CASA DE MARYLAND, SAYING: "That's what we're seeing in our clinics and in these sessions that we have where people are making a conscious and informed decision to fight.â€ VARIOUS OF 'MIA', AN UNDOCUMENTED WOMAN FROM GUATEMALA, WHO VOLUNTEERED FOR ONE OF THE SKITS AND WHO IS AT THE LEGAL CLINIC SEEKING HELP WITH HER LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS, MEETING WITH A VOLUNTEER ATTORNEY FROM CASA DE MARYLAND (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE ESCOBAR, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES AT CASA DE MARYLAND, SAYING: "We are putting them in front of an attorney and making sure that they understand their rights and making sure they understand what the risks are." VARIOUS OF 'MIA', AN UNDOCUMENTED WOMAN FROM GUATEMALA, WHO VOLUNTEERED FOR ONE OF THE SKITS AND WHO IS AT THE LEGAL CLINIC SEEKING HELP WITH HER LEGAL IMMIGRATION STATUS, MEETING WITH A VOLUNTEER ATTORNEY FROM CASA DE MARYLAND (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) 'MIA', AN UNDOCUMENTED WOMAN FROM GUATEMALA, WHO DOES NOT WANT HER REAL NAME USED, SAYING: "Well, for me, I wouldn't be afraid if they returned me to my country. I'd be more afraid for them (her children). Because my son, his country is practically this one. My daughter, she arrived here at only 8 months and doesn't know anything about my country. So that's my fear. If the day ever came and they deported her, what would they do in my country?" VARIOUS OF 'MIA' PUTTING UP DECORATIONS ON A CHRISTMAS TREE AT HER APARTMENT (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) 'MIA', AN UNDOCUMENTED WOMAN FROM GUATEMALA, WHO DOES NOT WANT HER REAL NAME USED, SAYING: "Truthfully, we think about it a lot. Because when someone comes to this country, they're already coming here risking their lives. They risk dying along the journey. But if they were to deport me, but my children were to remain here, I would come back again." CAT BY THE WINDOW 'MIA' CLEANING UP AROUND HER LIVING ROOM CAT LOOKING UP MORE OF 'MIA' CLEANING UP AROUND HER LIVING ROOM (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) 'MIA', AN UNDOCUMENTED WOMAN FROM GUATEMALA, WHO DOES NOT WANT HER REAL NAME USED, SAYING: "We're not going to have the same freedoms of going out. For example, to go shopping. We're not going to be able to go out to see our friends and our family members out of fear. Out of fear that they can stop us or immigration will show up." LEGAL CLINIC VOLUNTEER SAYING IN SPANISH "ONE, TWO, THREE, ACTION!" AND STEPPING ASIDE TO LET THE NEXT SKIT BEGIN VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS PERFORMING IN A SKIT ABOUT TWO WOMEN IN A CAR WHO HAVE BEEN STOPPED BY AUTHORITIES AND REFUSE TO SAY ANYTHING UNTIL THE POLICE LEAVE; AUDIENCE CLAPS AND CHEERS PAN ACROSS THE ROOM WHILE THE AUDIENCE CLAPS
- Embargoed: 9th February 2017 00:03
- Keywords: U.S. President Donald Trump immigration migrant refugees Hispanics undocumented illegal alien legal rights activists CASA de Maryland
- Location: HYATTSVILLE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
- City: HYATTSVILLE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00360M1007
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Immigration rights advocates in the U.S. say there is an intense national effort underway to educate non-documented people about their legal rights to remain in the U.S. as the Trump administration begins to execute his campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration.
Trump on Wednesday (January 25) signed directives to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and crack down on U.S. cities that shield illegal immigrants, proceeding quickly on sweeping and divisive plans to curb immigration and boost national security.
Numerous immigration and legal rights groups across the country, anticipating Trump's latest actions for weeks, say they have been reaching out more than ever to Hispanic migrant communities to help them push back on Trump's policies.
Among their tool kits are legal clinics to teach undocumented residents what to and what not to do when they encounter law enforcement -- whether on the streets, during traffic stops or if authorities come knocking on their doors.
"People are making a conscious and informed decision to fight," said George Escobar, Senior Director of Human Services at CASA de Maryland, which conducted a day-long legal clinic for about 100 people in Hyattsville recently, and which also connected attendees with a volunteer immigration attorney to help in their case.
"What we're doing is combining that kind of education with individualized and comprehensive legal screening and comprehensive legal intakes, so that we can sit down with peopleâ€¦ and make sure that their immigration status is as strong as it could be," Escobar said.
During the CASA legal clinic, the audience watched as volunteers performed skits in Spanish to illustrate potential deportation scenarios.
In one skit, volunteers pretending to be agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pounded hard on a white-board serving as a front door and demanded to be let inside. Behind the board was another volunteer insisting that she had the right to refuse them entry unless they had a warrant. The ICE agents eventually left, prompting the audience to cheer and applause.
In another skit, two women pretending to have been stopped in their car by ICE agents remain steadfastly silent and offer only a valid driver's license until the deportation authorities leave.
Among the people who received free legal counseling that day was a Guatemalan woman who said she occasionally volunteered for CASA but did not want to use her real name out of fear of deportation because she has entered the U.S. illegally on two occasions.
The woman, whom we will call "Mia," said her teenage son was born in the U.S. and that her 20-year-old daughter was hoping to remain in the U.S. under former President Barack Obama's DACA program, which allowed children who were brought into the U.S. illegally to remain in the U.S. under certain conditions.
Mia and her children are among an estimated 7 million people who make up "mixed status" families in the U.S., says Escobar, where various members have different immigration status, putting the family at risk of becoming separated if some members were to be deported.
"My son, his country is practically this one," Mia told Reuters from her home. "My daughter, she arrived here at only eight months and doesn't know anything about my country. So that's my fear. If the day ever came and they deported her, what would they do in my country?" Mia said when asked what she feared most about Trump's broad immigration plans.
Other advocates and legal groups that spoke with Reuters about mobilizing to defend against some of Trump's campaign promises over immigration were the National Immigration Law Center, the National Partnership for New Americas and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
They each said there was a formal and informal nationwide network pushing back on Trump's more draconian immigration policies, including large non profit legal clinics, faith based groups, attorney's associations, labor unions and the private bar, among others.
The legal groups that Reuters spoke with believe the battle against some of Trump's immigration policies will ultimately be fought in the courts over time.
But it won't be too soon for Mia who says she worries about having to live in stealth to remain in the U.S.
"We're not going to have the same freedoms of going out, for example to go shopping," she said. "We're not going to be able to go out to see our friends and our family members out of fear. Out of fear that they can stop us or immigration will show up."
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