Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene on Jan. 26 hosted an immigration forum at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church Auditorium in Brooklyn to provide information to constituents pertaining to knowing their rights regardless of immigration status and to protect themselves from legal issues.
The forum — a partnership with New York Legal Assistance Group, Brooklyn Defender Services, The Black Institute, CAMBA, New York Immigration Coalition, Catholic Charities Community Services, and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs — was “a valuable opportunity for residents to compile information regarding changes in immigration policy, as well to learn about important legal services available to the community,” said Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn.
Eugene said he was “honored” to be joined by the Consul General of Haiti, P. Bernard Helder, to discuss how immigrants can better prepare themselves for changes to immigration policy.
“As you know, we are all immigrants. We came to this country for the same reason. We know that New York City and the United States as a whole have been built by immigrants. Tonight’s gathering is very important because it is about more than immigration; it is about all of us,” Eugene said.
Bernard said: “As we navigate through our immigration experience, we must always remember that as immigrants, what unites us is greater than what divides us. We share a commonality in this experience, an experience which has built America.”
Eugene noted that there were a lot of changes to immigration, adding that “naturally, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know about temporary protected status or family reunification.
“There are many wonderful programs; and unfortunately, we don’t know what’s going to happen with them,” he said. “In December of last year, I asked the federal government to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haiti. If they don’t renew it, there are people who will be in this country without immigration status, and it will be a disaster.”
Eugene said the Immigration Forum served as an important event at which members of the community could seek assistance from legal experts regarding citizenship, naturalization, Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans (DAPA), Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), asylum, and immigration fraud.