Nettie Garza said she wants to go visit her grandmother, whom she hasn’t seen in nine years, in Mexico. She has been saving up money to make the trip, but now, Garza, a green card holder, is scared to leave the country.
Garza, 29, attended Bloomington Immigrant Rights Coalition’s “Know Your Rights” workshop Tuesday evening. She wanted to be informed on what to do if her resident status is questioned in the wake of President Trump’s executive order on immigration and international travel.
Tuesday’s workshop was the second in a series of five workshops at the Monroe County Public Library that will teach immigrants their rights if questioned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.
Folders filled with information were handed out prior to the presentation. They included an examples of what a warrant would look like from both ICE and a judge and resources for immigrants.
Daniela Gutiérrez, joined onstage by Willy Palomo of the UndocuHoosier Alliance and Christie Popp of Popp Immigration Law Office, stepped up to the microphone shortly after 6 p.m. to introduce the event. They switched back and forth between English and Spanish.
The attendees were told they didn’t have to open the door for an ICE officer unless the officer had a warrant, and they could ask an ICE officer if they were free to go if stopped on the street. They have the right to see a lawyer before signing anything.
Pro bono lawyers were available after the presentation in the upstairs rooms of the library to give advice or to help people set up power of attorneys. Mental health counselors were also available for people to talk to.
Gutiérrez, a Ph.D. student in gender studies at IU and an international student from Colombia, helped to organize the workshops in response to the executive order.
“We thought it would be important for the IU students and the Bloomington community at large to know their rights, have something to reference, some kind of training, so that they could be prepared in case the worst happened,” she said.
The room was filled with mostly women, some of whom were accompanied by children. For many of them, their biggest concern for the evening was to talk to a lawyer about power of attorney papers, to be able to plan for their children’s safety in the event that they are deported.
A 29-year-old woman named Deyanira sat in the auditorium with her three daughters.
Deyanira was there to learn about how to protect herself and her family because both she and her husband are undocumented. She was most interested in speaking to a lawyer about filing a power of attorney to make sure she has a contingency plan for her girls.
Garza said there is a lot of fear of what’s to come in the Bloomington immigrant community.
“I have friends who are scared of going to work,” Garza said. “They don’t know what to do if they’re driving to work or their kids to school and they’re stopped.”
She said many people are especially worried about the new rules that allow local police enforcement to act as immigration officers.
“We are not safe anymore,” she said.
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