• Immigration Task Force seeks to help families affected by ICE raids, deportation, separation

    Imagine you’re 14 years of age. Your parents are undocumented immigrants, but you were brought to Pacific Grove as a baby and know no other way of life. Your little brother was born here, and that makes him a citizen of the United States. You figure you qualify for the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from talking to your friends at school, but a there is a real possibility that one or both of your parents could be deported back to Colombia, given the current political climate, and you aren’t sure what you would do if that happened.
    That possibility colors all your activities and is a constant guest at the dinner table, where your parents start at the sound of footsteps outside the door. They hold you extra tight when they leave for work in the mornings, your dad to a bussing job at a local restaurant and your mom to change sheets and clean after tourists at a local hotel. You have a legitimate summer job, picking strawberries in a field to which you ride on the MST bus, but you’re looking forward to the start of school in a month or so. Your brother stays home and is under the care of a neighbor until everyone comes home.
    But one evening they aren’t home when you get off the bus. Your brother is there, sobbing, while your neighbor tries to comfort him. ICE had conducted a raid and your parents are in detention and will likely soon be deported, leaving you and your brother alone in a small apartment in Pacfic Grove. “What will we do now?” your neighbor asks, rhetorically.
    What, indeed? Who will care for minor children? How will they get schooling? What about health care? What if they get hurt? What will they eat? Is there a chance they can join their parents? Could their things be sold to help pay for the children’s care?
    There’s a potential answer to these questions and more, thanks to a small group of volunteers formed in Monterey County.
    The Immigration Task Force is an organization of 15 activists — and growing — who have been working since February, 2017 to assist families in planning for the potential of one or both parents being deported. Rick Baldwin, coordinator from Pacific Grove, said they formed in response to an increasing number of detentions and deportations in the area. Working with other organizations, such as the Monterey County Bar Association’s College of Law and the Action Council of Monterey County, they help families set up guardianships and power-of-attorney forms as well.
    They seek to work through the schools to set up methods to make parents aware these services are available – for a mere $150 if possible, free for the majority of families. Fees help pay for a crisis line, and for the printing of “red cards,” familiar to soccer fans and thus a vehicle for Immigration Task Force volunteers to disseminate information about the program to families who might need services. The clients are asked to keep the red cards close at hand.
    Volunteers work with the United Farm Workers and with hospitality unions.They visit fields and approach potential clients, handing out red cards and attempting to reassure them that there are answers to their questions and needs. They also give out information: Potential deportees can say, “I don’t have to talk to you. I want to see a lawyer.” They may not be aware that there must be a warrant, signed by a federal judge and that an ICE warrant is not enough. They are reminded that running away is a presumption of guilt, and they are reminded of the 5th Amendment which can be used to prevent self-incrimination, and of the 4th Amendment which protects them from illegal search and seizure, even though they might not be citizens.
    And they ask, “Do you know anyone who might need this?” as they pass out red cards. There are some 377 Latino students in the Pacific Grove Unified School District, which will begin a program in August, and move ito the lower grades in September. Monterey began holding town halls earlier this year and will hold more in the coming school year.
    The Immigration Task Force hotline nuber is 831-643-5225. Upon receiving a call, a Rapid Resonder is dispatched who would g to where the cleint is being detained and make sure no rights are violated. Donations are gratefully accepted through the Action Council of Monterey County, a 501 (C) 3, at 295 Main St. #30, Salinas 93901. Write “Immigration Task Force” on the memo line.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on July 20, 2017

    Topics: Front PG News

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