Congressmember Nydia Velázquez hosted a forum in Sunset Park on Sunday, February 11 that provided information regarding immigrant families and their rights.
The informative event, held at P.S. 516, 4222 Fourth Avenue, also featured guests such as Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, and local immigration experts and advocates who discussed family-based petitions, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), immigration fraud family reunification; deportation; citizenship; passports and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs.
In addition, different community based organizations set up tables to provide information, such as legal advice.
“We are here to empower everyone here with the information that you need in the era of President Donald Trump so that you know what to do in case you are facing some challenges regarding your immigration status here, but more importantly I want to empower you mothers and fathers so that your children can feel some sense of stability and hope,” Velazquez told the group. “I want you to know I’m here and I have got so many people that are providing assistance to the community. You are not alone. We will be here every single day to protect every immigrant family in this country.”
Velazquez discussed the current uncertainty surrounding the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) a bill in Congress that would have granted legal status to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
“We don’t know what the president wants to do with immigration and there is no cohesive legislation at this point,” she said. “What we do know now is there is a crisis going on that impacts 800,000 Dreamers. This crisis was manufactured by President Donald Trump. Let’s get together to craft sensible legislation and get this done.”
TPS, a major concern for many Sunset Park families, was also touched upon.
“We have another crisis,” she explained. “The conditions that left the U.S. government to welcome people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti have changed. People lived in conditions that are just shameful. How could we say to Nicaraguans and El Salvadorians to stay? The conditions that allow for you to come to this country are not there anymore. We are better than that.”
Tips on how to deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were also offered.
“They knock on your door, you don’t open,” Velazquez warned. “If they say they have a warrant, you make them put it under the door. That way you can check whether it has your full and correct name on it and if it’s signed.”
Velazquez wanted the diverse group to speak up if there’s a problem or if they notice suspicious activity.
“If you learn anything here today, it is to have the information and toolkit we are providing,” she said. “If you are confronting an immediate emergency, call my office. If your case is pending with Immigration, visit my office or go for community-based legal aid.”