Matthew Peters provided the following information:
- Immigrants have 4 years to file for asylum. However, they cannot file until they have been assigned a court appearance date which can take a year or more to obtain, if at all. This system is confusing and broken, allowing immigrants to languish indefinitely in detention centers without any court hearing or legal representation.
- A private attorney can cost $8,000 min. Local pro-bono legal aid is not proficient in handling the complex immigration system. Competent skills and services are greatly needed. American Immigration Association has been helpful.
- Currently CMRC is receiving 5 requests /week for help.
- Speaking classic Spanish is not enough to qualify as a community interpreter. An additional 40 hours of training is necessary (course available at Chesapeake Community College).
C.A.I.R. Coalition in Washington, DC:
Could train up to 10 people to assist here on the Eastern Shore. They are looking primarily for unique cases that could promote legal precedent, leading to landmark law. Trainees would become a channel for communication between attorneys and detainees. Dave Bobrow has researched this organization.
Ray Earnest is seeking ways to help immigrants during their initial contact with ICE. She identified 3 levels in this process:
- Regular check-ins with ICE.
- Notice to appear for hearing (start of deportation process).
- Appeal to immigration court. A domestic violence claim might benefit an applicant’s case.
Assistance could be provided by a knowledgeable attorney along with a trained interpreter. Matthew Peters said $100/month could fund one interpreter for one 15 min. visit/month with a detainee. Such visits should not consume the time that family members might wish to use.
There is a UU handbook on becoming a Sanctuary Church. We cannot meet the space requirements for a Sanctuary Church; however, we could become a “Sanctuary Support Church.” We could donate money and services to a Sanctuary Church. Dave Bobrow suggested that we contact the local Catholic and Evangelical communities. They have many Hispanic congregants.
Moving Forward at UUFE:
- Formalize our Immigration Task Force and charge it with drafting an action plan for UUFE.
- Our Task Force members will liaison with Temple B’Nai Israel and Dave Bobrow’s committee to coordinate our efforts.
- Social Justice Committee will help the Immigrant Task Force secure approval and backing of the UUFE Board for its program and recommendations.
Present: David Stevens
Steve and Liz Parks
Bo and Ray Earnest