In the aftermath of the United States presidential election there have been streams of attacks and threats against several immigrants in the City of New York. In the midst of these frightening experiences against individuals, New York city and state political and civil leaders are strategizing and implementing methods to protect local immigrants.
Last Saturday morning, Dec. 17 at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office hosted an immigration forum to help inform the community on some of the plights immigrants are facing. In his address to the group, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office as the chief defense for the borough will protect everyone, including documented or undocumented immigrants. Regardless of your immigration status he noted, “…know your rights, we will keep immigrants informed, the criminal justice system is here for everyone and to make people less afraid despite their immigration status,” Gonzalez pointed out. The Brooklyn district attorney reminded immigrants that they should be mindful of the documents they are preparing in any immigration processing and he suggested that individuals do not leave original documents with anyone, for example their birth certificate. The Brooklyn DA mentioned also how important it is to understand, “…what you are signing. There is no current amnesty, so don’t be fooled,” he warned.
Gonzales reiterated the need to be aware of unscrupulous actions and illusive fraud, “demand receipts from people you are conducting business affairs with.” The district attorney also suggested that immigrants who are utilizing an attorney ask their attorneys questions and know what risks and alternatives are opened.
In addition, Gonzalez also noted that with regards to the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA, Dreamers) there are bills pending to protect the more than 800,000 young people benefiting. The district attorney asked that more New York City young people take advantage and learn more about DACA. In New York City, he noted, only 35,000 young persons are a part of the DACA.
At the forum, experts on immigration participated in a panel discussion and decried some of the serious issues immigrants are now facing. The panelists discussed the increase in hate crime, insults and real estate fraud against immigrants. They told the audience to seek legal council to guide them through their varying situations.
Members of the panel also suggested that the immigrant community refrain from being isolated and collaborate with various agencies that work on immigration issues. Learn how to go through the process to avoid deportation panel members recommended. The group explained the dangers, “happening to immigrants on the streets.” The panel members informed the audience on the available resources for everyone in New York City. During the presentations also it was mentioned that the New York City identification card can now be process without leaving personal documents with the city. Documents will be returned immediately to recipients of the NY City identification card holder. The group of panelists encouraged the immigrant community to be proactive in their legal affairs with anyone they are conducting business with. They suggested that immigrants “spend time seeking out who you will work with regarding your immigration issues,” one panelist noted.
Representatives on the panel are stationed in New York city offices including the United States Citizens and Immigration Service, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, New York Immigration Coalition and New York City Immigration Affairs.