Sleeping with a suitcase under the bed

Sleeping with a suitcase under the bed

What would you do if immigration agents came for you and separated you from your children? Breaking apart families was never a central mission of previous Republican and Democratic administrations, but with Trump many parents are now faced with having to plan for unimaginable cruelties of a racist deportation machine. It may not be 1935 but, if you are someone sleeping with a packed suitcase under the bed, it sure feels like it.

On Thursday Helena daSilva Hughes of the Immigrants Assistance Center and Corinn Williams of the Community Economic Development Center, both in New Bedford, hosted a workshop given by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute’s (MLRI) Emily Leung. Roughly 40 attendees represented a spectrum of local social service, academic, health care, and legal organizations and they had come to learn about legal tools immigrants can use to protect the welfare of their children if they face deportation.

Leung discussed the Trump administration’s “shift in enforcement,” which was a diplomatic way of describing ICE’s shift from deporting dangerous individuals to going after the easiest people to round up. The MLRI attorney discussed adaptations to, and the function of, the Caregiver Authorization Affidavit and Temporary Agent Appointment documents, both already in use within the Commonwealth. Neither of these legal documents grants guardianship of a child to another adult — a last resort if a child is young and the deportation is irreversible — but they permit a caregiver to make important decisions for a parent who can no longer advocate for her own children.

This story was first published – HERE

It was a lively meeting with many questions asked and answered. Leung dispensed practical advice on storing and collecting identity and travel documents — and ending by stressing the importance of committing important phone numbers to memory. By the time you need to make that phone call you’re already in ICE custody — and they’ve got your phone.

For more information go to the MLRI website or to Mass Legal Help. You can find workshop resources in English and Spanish — and more translations would be welcomed.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has published a similar Emergency Planning Guide for Families in EnglishPortugueseSpanish, and Haitian Creole.


The Immigrants Assistance Center (IAC) and the Community Economic Development Center(CEDC) both perform important work of helping immigrant families — whatever their status.

Check out the Benefit Concert for the IAC at the Greasy Luck Brewpub, 791 Purchase St., New Bedford, MA 02740, on Saturday, February 24th, from 5-8pm. Buy your tickets here.

And please support the work of the CEDC by making a generous donation.

This story was first published – HERE

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