On Tuesday, February 21st, over 400 people attended the Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island (OLA)’s bilingual Immigration and Civil Rights Forum in Bridgehampton. Hosted at the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church, the pews were filled with people looking for answers from representatives of various local advocacy groups regarding their rights and how they should prepare in case of another Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid.
One important step that was emphasized during the meeting was for parents to have conversations with their children and make arrangements in case they are detained. Cheryl Keshner of the Empire Justice Center advised that those in the audience to create a plan, “Keep an emergency list, who to call in case there’s a problem. You should make an emergency plan for your children — I know it’s difficult. You need to identify who is going to be responsible for your children in case you are detained.”
Jose Perez of LatinoJustice reminded the audience that immigrants have rights that should not be overlooked, like the right to legal representation: “Our Constitution applies equally to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a citizen. It gives rights to all, regardless of who lives in the White House.”
Even after the meeting ended, several participants approached those on the panel individually to ask additional questions and seek advice. But one message, summed up by Keshner, had been made clear that evening to all who attended: “It’s not a crime to be an immigrant. We are united and we are here together to say we will protect immigrant communities.”