Legal clinic for immigrants addresses ‘climate of fear’
A free legal clinic on immigration was held on November 20 at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City in response to what the organizers called “climate of fear and uncertainty” caused by the recent election to the presidency of Donald Trump.
The legal clinic, organized by the Migrante New Jersey immigrant and workers’ rights organization, was attended by community members seeking legal consultation on various immigration issues.
Migrante members discussed what to expect under the Trump administration and what the community can do to prepare.
“According to Trump he will immediately terminate President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He also mentioned about immediately deporting two million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions,” said Nick Cordero, chairperson of Migrante New Jersey. “These are just some of the anti-immigrant actions that we are anticipating under the Trump administration.”
There is an estimated 400K undocumented Filipino immigrants, according to consular officials, a number usually equivalent to 10 percent of overall population of about 4 million Filipino immigrants. Some lawyers believe the number could be more than 500K.
After the discussion, community members were escorted to their one-on-one legal consultations.
The free legal clinic was done in partnership with The Center for Undocumented Students of Saint Peter’s University, UnLocal and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). This free legal clinic was done in response to what the organizers say as the climate of fear and uncertainty caused by the recent election to the presidency by Donald Trump.
“Many are afraid of possible raids, mass deportations as well as increase in hate crimes against immigrants,” said Cordero. He said further how Trump had consistently campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform vowing to build a wall between the United States and Mexico as well as banning immigrants from countries “compromised” by terrorism, naming the Philippines as one of them.
Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate crimes, has recorded over 700 hateful incidents and harassment since the elections.
According to Cordero, this free legal clinic is just one of many activities they are planning to organize defend the immigrant community against possible anti-immigrant policies and legislation under the Trump administration. Cordero also called on the community to get organized and participate in protests.
“We will hold more free legal clinics as well as Know Your Rights workshops to ensure that our community is aware of their rights. We will continue organizing our community because the only way we can ensure our safety is by organizing and taking action. If we are organized, we have nothing to fear,” said Cordero.
Migrante New Jersey also continues to call on local governments to implement or reaffirm their sanctuary city status as well as immediately pass ordinances to further protect vulnerable communities, such as municipal ID.
For Filipinos who have concerns about their immigration status, are detained or are under deportation, they can contact Migrante New Jersey at 201-898-5661 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Migrante New Jersey is a local chapter of Migrante International is an international alliance of Filipino migrants organizations. It aims to educate, organize and mobilize Filipino immigrants and their families to protect and advance their rights.