Local immigrant advocates see pain of separated families

Local immigrant advocates see pain of separated families

NEW BEDFORD — Corinn Williams of the Community Economic Development Center said her office is just beginning to deal with the problem of families being affected by separations at the border.

“These folks have a legitimate claim for asylum” and wouldn’t leave everything behind in their home country if they didn’t, Williams said.

“We’re talking about people who are fleeing violence, and often times fleeing for their lives and their children’s lives,” she said.

For the most part, the office is in touch with local relatives expecting families from the border. The office has worked with 11 families in the last month, such as a pending case of a father, mother and child who were separated.

This story first appeared in the Standard-Times 
on June 20th, 2018 – HERE

Helena DaSilva Hughes, executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center, said every day she’s gotten calls from people who see the media coverage and wonder what will happen to them.

For DaSilva Hughes herself, seeing the news coverage was a reminder of the 2007 raid on Michael Bianco Inc. in New Bedford, which rounded up hundreds of undocumented workers.

“Nobody talked about a family plan then,” she said, which is something the center has been working on with people who are undocumented.

The center has been raising awareness on such plans that families should have in place, she said, to make sure kids or family members can be taken care of if one of them gets detained or deported. The center also has brought awareness of these plans to local service providers who can help. And she says the center plans to continue spreading the word.

“Family separations aren’t just a border problem. They’re a problem right in our backyard,” said Marion Davis of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). The coalition held a rally at the State House Wednesday afternoon on keeping immigrant families together.

“People in our communities are being arrested one-by-one all the time” she said.

A Families Belong Together Rally is being planned in New Bedford for June 30 at the Bethel AME Church. It will be a sister march to the Families Belong Together rally in D.C., set for the same day.

The rally is being planned by Bethany Fauteux of #NBW3: The Ward 3 Project, City Councilor Dana Ribeiro, Ruth Chicca, president of Action Together Massachusetts and advocate Erica Scott of Fall River.

Although planning for the event is in the preliminary stages, according to Fauteux, on Facebook, almost 85 people indicated they’ll attend and 375 indicated they’re interested, as of Wednesday evening. Given that, the venue for the rally could change, she said.

“It’s just not right, no matter how you look at it,” Fauteux said.

“It should’ve never been acceptable to begin with.”

This story first appeared in the Standard-Times 
on June 20th, 2018 – HERE

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