Mexican Consulate will host immigrants’ rights workshop in Heber
Lawyers will be on hand to discuss deportation, dual citizenship
While President Donald Trump’s administration plans to toughen the country’s policies to curtail illegal immigration, local agencies and organizations want to remind immigrants of their rights.
Each month, the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City holds several well-attended workshops where issues such as deportation and immigration status, among other matters, are addressed, said Gabriel Octavio Gil-Mass, a consulate agent. Last month, more than 500 people attended a workshop in Salt Lake City.
The Mexican Consulate is scheduled to host an immigrants’ rights workshop at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the St. Lawrence Catholic Church, in Heber City. The workshop is being held in collaboration with the People’s Health Clinic and Immigrant Legal Services.
Beth Armstrong, executive director of the People’s Health Clinic, said ever since Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained four illegal immigrants in Park City, the clinic has hosted similar workshops. Armstrong said more than 20 people usually attend.
“We have been holding these ‘Know Your Rights’ information sessions at the clinics and I told people before that I will keep having them until people keep stop showing up,” Armstrong said. “The reason we are doing it at the Catholic Church in Heber is because there is a large population that we aren’t serving there.
“I don’t know what the response will be, but I always tell people if one person comes and gets their questions answered we have done our job,” she said. “We are not legal counsel and this is not our expertise. We are just that safe known source.”
In the February, the U.S Department of Homeland Security released two memos describing its decision to implement new policies regarding immigration and speeding up the process in which immigrants are detected, apprehended, detained and removed. A move that caused uncertainty and fear among the community’s Latino population.
“We mainly talk about immigration and current news and realities of where we stand right now and what is going on with the executive orders and the new administration,” Gil-Mass said. “People will raise their hands and start asking questions and we try to provide an answer to each and every one of them, if we can.”
Immigration lawyers will be on hand to address questions about deportation or detainment by law enforcement, power of attorney and citizenship.
“We will discuss what to do in those cases and how to be prepared in case of deportation, what to do with your children and who the best person to be in charge of your children is,” Gil-Mass said.
Gil-Mass said helping children who are born in the United States to Mexican immigrants achieve dual citizenship is “one of our main goals.” He said the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM ACT) and the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be discussed.
“Right now, we have a 400 percent increase in that area of requesting dual citizenship,” Gil-Mass said. “They have a constitutional right to become a citizen and we well tell them how to register their births and do that.”
Another component of the workshop will focus on consular services and programs that are available for immigrants, especially women.
“We have a lot of programs to help people get back to Mexico and we have programs to empower women, financially and legally,” Gil-Mass said. “We are really trying to raise awareness about what domestic violence is because many don’t know they are being victimized.”
Gil-Mass suggested attendees bring paper, something to write with and general questions about their situation. At the end of the session, there will be an opportunity for individual consultations with representatives from Immigrant Legal Services for a fee, he said.
Anyone can attend the workshop, but only immigrants will be eligible for services provided through the consulate. The event will be primarily conducted in Spanish.
“We are going to bring with us a lot of print information about what to do in case of deportation, how to be prepared with your financial issues,” Gil-Mass said. “If you want to sell your home or your car in order to send that money to Mexico, we will tell people how to do that. They can bring all kinds of questions and will try and provide answers.”
The Mexican Consulate is scheduled to host an immigrants’ rights workshop at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the St. Lawrence Catholic Church, in Heber City.
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