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New Sanctuary Coalition General Meeting July 18 2012

August 17, 2012

HIGHLIGHTS from the NYC New Sanctuary Coalition MEETING

            Wednesday, July 18, 2012 – Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

A.            Three of our elected officials gave tips on how to help them pass better laws:

NYC City Councilwoman Melissa-Mark-Viverito, NYS State Senator Gustavo Rivera and NYC Councilman Daniel Dromm

NY State Sen. Gustavo Rivera – NW Bronx

NY City Council member Daniel Dromm – Jackson Heights

NY City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito – E.Harlem, Mott Haven, UWS.

Their advice:

  • Pressure works!  But it takes a sustained campaign for several years.

Some successful examples:

The recent Obama administration policy change to let undocumented immigrant youth avoid deportation

Gov. Cuomo’s rejection of S-Comm for NY State last year –

ICE Out of Rikers bill

  • Those changes do not go far enough, but they are a start and can be amended later, if the pressure continues.
  • Even those legislators who support immigrant rights need constant reinforcement by their constituents’ writing, signing of petitions, etc.  Take people from the legislator’s own district to tell the legislator their stories; a human face helps sharpen the issues.
  • Form coalitions with other issue-groups to expand your influence.
  • Do not hesitate to be as aggressive as you feel you need to be.  Legislators need to see the entire range of opinions to find the point where they can gather a majority to pass new laws.  If there are no aggressive advocates, they will not move from the most conservative positions.  Recognize that others may use different tactics; pressure has to come from many sides to be effective.
  • Focus most of your pressure on those who are most likely to change their minds, not those who will never change.  (But do try to talk with them once in awhile….)
  • It is important for immigrants, even non-citizens, to participate in the electoral process by campaigning; even non-voters can talk to voters to educate them on the issues and urge them to vote.

 

B.            Amy Gottlieb (immigration attorney with NJ American Friends Service Committee) outlined the new Department of Homeland Services policy on immigrant youth.

By a DHS Memo issued June 18, some young immigrants are eligible for Deferred Action:

  • Those brought to the US before age 16
  • Still in the US on June 18, 2012
  • Still under 30 years of age
  • High school graduate or GED holder, or still in school

Deferred Action is not a “status” and it will expire in 2 years, but it does give you a work permit, a special Social Security number, the right to apply for a driver’s license.  And no deportation while you have Deferred Action.

Deferred Action might be renewed or not, probably depending on politics.

DHS has not yet issued a Process to Apply; they have until Aug. 15 to issue it.

Until then:

  • Collect documents to prove each of the eligibility factors
  • Wait for DHS to announce the application Process; don’t contact any immigration officials yet.
  • Do NOT pay lawyers/notarios who say they can do the application for you NOW.
  • If you have ever been arrested for anything, talk to a good immigration lawyer about whether you should apply for this status, because some criminal records make you ineligible.
  • To find out if an immigration lawyer is good, ask:  does he/she belong to the American  Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)? What branch of immigration law does he/she specialize in? How long has he/she been practicing immigration law?
  • If you have a deportation case already pending in the courts, your attorney CAN apply now to close the case and get Deferred Action.

C.            Campaigns the New Sanctuary Coalition can support

1.            July 24 Day of Action for Low-Wage Workers.  Union Square, 5 p.m.

This union-sponsored March is important to immigrant advocates because undocumented immigrants are often exploited by employers who pay below-minimum-wages knowing their workers cannot go to the authorities to complain.   More information will be sent soon.

2.            WASH-NY Campaign

Car-wash workers (most are immigrants) are among those exploited.  Under NY State law, they can be paid less than the minimum wage if the employer can show that tips are distributed to bring the wage up to minimum level.  Unfortunately, this usually does not happen.     NY Communities for Change is sponsoring a campaign against LMC Car Wash (a company that owns numerous NYC car washes and is documented as exploiting them); see details at:

http://bit.ly/LMCaction

3.            Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”)

Attorney working for kids

Immigrant youth who are in the US without parents or legal guardians who get in trouble with the law are sent to detention centers; a major center is in Westchester, which is about to be expanded to house more than 350 youth.  Under the law, there is a special juvenile immigrant status they can apply for, to stay here.  But that requires them to go to State court, which requires an attorney,  and to be released from detention to go to court, and to win in court, they need to show support from the community – testimony that they basically have a good character, and a promise that a responsible adult will make sure they keep their court hearings and ICE check-ins, and that they have a place to live, and some work to do.   A volunteer lawyer for these youth told the meeting that

Hermes – He is a child who was detained and is facing this this terrible policy.

she has been successful in getting several clients released when New Sanctuary Coalition members were willing to take on these responsibilities and write letters for the young people.  She asks for more New Sanctuary Coalition volunteers for these tasks.

Contact Ravi Ragbir for more information.

4.            Jericho Walks – every Thursday at 11 a.m. outside 26 Federal Plaza

This silent march of New Sanctuary members (clergy in clerical garb; laity in white, please) has taken place every Thursday for a year.  It is a spiritual experience for those doing it, an encouragement for the immigrants going into the building to confront ICE, and a witness to the general public that people of faith care about immigrants.

Just show up any week.

5.            Accompaniment project – go to ICE check-ins and court hearings with immigrants: Contact Ravi Ragbir for details

6.           Others who were present at the meeting. Check out and like our Facebook page for more images

Notes by Grace Goodman

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