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Event offers plan for immigrants in uncertain times

Last weekend, the Olathe Hispanic Coalition held an information session, “Conozca su derechos y proteja sus intereses.” (Know your rights and protect your interests.) Participating organizations included El Centro Inc., the Mexican Consulate, the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City and the Center of Grace.

The purpose of the event, according to one of the professional presenters Jose Garcia Jr., owner of Universal Financial Group, was to show those affected by current immigration policies, how to be prepared in case of an adverse immigration situation.

“The plan is to be prepared and know who to call, who to talk right away if … you are that one family where ICE comes and take your dad … or your mom away. We want to make sure that your family … your kids, your aunts and uncles come in and help and get everything organized the way they need to just to make sure that the family moves forward,” explained Garcia.

“To me it’s almost like the death of a family member. Once that family is no longer there, or the income is not coming, the family goes into shock, and that is why with this situation with ICE/immigration is really scary, because you are really tearing up families and taking them away and that income doesn’t’ come and you don’t get to see your family members in some cases,” explained Garcia.

Alejandro Solorio, partner of Solorio and Avila law firm, has an extensive background in immigration law and provided advice at the event.

“I have been practicing immigration law for over 22 years and things have really increased as far as enforcement against Latino immigrants. I see it in their faces. All these immigrants are really fearful of how our country is changing. … The stories we have heard are horrible because we are seeing how families are now being separated. So events like this let people know their rights so they can get information about how they should prepare. That is really important,” he explained.

The plans included are basic considerations that most people don’t have to worry about such as creating power of attorney relationships.

“A lot of times people are being detained by immigration … and they have not prepared to see who is going to pick up their kids from school. Who is going to be able to manage their bank accounts or if they own a home or rent a home. It’s really important that they prepare themselves so that in case of an emergency, in case they are going to be detained, they have someone that can step in their place as a parent,” said Solorio.

“It has been a difficult time primarily because we see that there are so many good immigrants in our community and across the country and they are so afraid to leave their homes and they are afraid to go to work. They are afraid to send their kids to school, and you can see the fear in their eyes and that is what makes me really sad,” added Solorio.

He is troubled by the absence of a human component in the equation. “These are real people. They are not just numbers on a paper. These are real people … that have families and children … spouses that are U.S. citizens. These are real people and they should see the humanity in it and I really wish that they look into, not only enforcement but some type of immigration reform as well.”

Ricardo, who would only give his first name, attended the event. He has three children with one of them born in this country.

“I came here to get some answers to the questions I have regarding my immigration case, which is in process. I am curious to know why my work permit has not arrived though I have been renewing it for three consecutive years,” he said. “We don’t know ourselves what are the immigration laws. That is one of the reason why I am here – to know if I am legal and what are the procedures for my work permit to see if it’s going to be sent or not.“

Ricardo has a provisional working status with a court appointment for December, which will review his case and make a determination of his status, in the meantime he waits for a permit renewal that until this year had been routine.

“I have the DACA version like the students but that is what I am still waiting for. I am in a little despair not knowing what is going to happen.” That fear extends to members of his family uncertain about the future.

Ricardo lays part of the problem on Mexico. “One of the questions I have is, if Mexico had better wages or if their government was less corrupt, I believe that we would not be here now. … Without indicating our nationalities we are here as Latinos. We come to this country because we know that we can advance ourselves and go forward to give a better future to our kids. That is what every parent wants for their children. It is painful to see that we have a corrupt Mexican government because I do fear for my kids. There is no way you can hide that.”

He knows that to be sent back to his homeland would be difficult. There is always a future. The problem in the obstacles the Mexican government is imposing as well as the delinquents. He said you go there to start a little business, to live within a reasonable living standard. If it is not the government, it will be the delinquents that will try and extort you. … Why? Because Mexico is based on total corruption, from the top of the government to the municipalities. There are no guarantees that you will be able to rest and believe that you will be able to live decently and peacefully. … It is very difficult. … They do not value our contribution or strengths. “

“I do fear for my children but I will be honest with you that every morning that I wake up I commend myself to God and accept that it is his will and not mine. He will guard us. That is the only force I have. The only one.”