By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
Last Thursday, April 6, the United Latino Society here at UMass Dartmouth hosted a speech from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. called Know your Rights, focusing on immigration rights and laws, as well as what to do in dealing with ICE and police officers and officials.
The United Latino Society, headed by Lisbeth Valdez and Carlos Aquino, invited a special speaker as well and hosted/organized the event to help students. Their reasoning “was to see how the community feels about, and offer them protection.”
The program took place in the Frederick Douglas Unity House, featuring its keynote speaker, Carl Williams. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Carl Williams has dealt exclusively in immigration law and dealt with cases like what many are seeing around the country.
The theme of the night was immigration, laws, legalities, and protections for citizens, especially those who would be affected by new executive orders released that granted broad powers to ICE and law enforcement to deport immigrants.
The previous laws all stated that in order for ICE and police to check the legal status of citizen’s immigration, they would have first had to have a clear, jail-worthy offense.
The new executive order removed that requirement, allowing for officers and ICE to check legal status for citations and written offenses.
Williams advised students and attendees on what exactly happens within a stop by police/ICE and how they exclusively used certain ways of harassment and pressure in order to convict people.
Stating that “most people can’t be detained by an officer, but they will ask for you to answer a couple questions, and that covers them for you willfully agreed to it.”
Offering recommendations on how to avoid encounters with the police and to learn and recognize certain behaviours, he further offered for all to become knowledgeable on their rights as citizens, and to be prepared for encounters.
Valdez and Aquino offered their reasons for inviting Williams, stating how they “have known of people in sanctuary cities such as Lawrence and Boston who are afraid of deportation.” They also commented on how the immigration process, even for those with no crimes, was unfairly complex and many people got deported despite having committed no crimes other than minor traffic violations.
The event was organized not only as a way to engage with the community at UMass Dartmouth, but also as a reaction to recent political events and orders by President Trump and increased activity from ICE with deportations.
The ACLU’s attorneys, including Carl Williams, have been in courts with legal battles, lawsuits, and cases against various executive orders signed by President Trump.
They view them as unconstitutional and discriminatory, often sighting Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
With Trump’s statements on removing federal funding from sanctuary cities, cities that hosted immigrants without legal status, the issue of immigration is likely to continue, for it was one of the key promises Trump made during his campaign.
Valdez and Aquino both said that events like Know your Rights will continue, “so long as they step foot on this campus, there will always be events like this to help.”