In March 2017, Erica Rosales, with the support of the DWT Portland office, held a Spanish-language presentation aimed at informing members of the immigrant community about their basic rights when confronted by law enforcement. The event was hosted by DWT pro bono client Zenger Farm, a Portland urban farm and education center that promotes sustainable food systems and community development.
Erica worked with the Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association to create the presentation, which includes advice on issues such as: how to respond if you are asked about your immigration status; what to do if a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent shows up at your home or workplace; and differences between a judicial and ICE warrant.
“The goal was to be concise and helpful,” says Erica. “For that reason, we covered basic rights, common scams, and resources.” Attendees also came away with a flyer that briefly summarized rights and advice. “While some of this information may seem obvious to us lawyers, it is often not common knowledge in communities of color,” she says. “The feedback that I received is that it was helpful and made a positive impact.”
“When a person does not know their basic rights, they are potentially crippling their future,” said Krysta Williams, Zenger Farm’s community engagement coordinator. “We know law enforcement has a tough job and any interaction with them should always be respectful, but a person should be aware of their rights and never feel pressured to give them up.”
DWT sponsored food and beverage for the event, which was prepared by participants in Zenger Farm’s Community Chefs program, while Zenger Farm provided child care. “I think this helped quite a bit with attendance,” says Erica, “considering that we gave the presentation in the evening.”