Several hundred residents attended two recent free “Know Your Rights” immigration services seminars sponsored by the Board of Education and Mayor/Senator Brian P. Stack and the Union City Board of Commissioners where they received valuable legal and immigration rights’ advice from experts.
Last year the Board and Mayor/Senator Stack and the Commissioners sponsored two similar free programs on immigration.
Mayor/Senator Stack told residents that “Union City is fortunate to have you living here. Our community has always welcomed immigrants, and we always will.”
Each speaker, representing well-known immigration rights’ organizations, urged residents to obtain a free Municipal Identification Card that Union City began offering last year. Any resident 14 years and older may obtain the card at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall, and the Clerk’s office will process applications and issue identification cards on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4PM to 7PM.as an added convenience.
Each speaker also urged residents who are not yet citizens to use only the Municipal Identification Card if they are asked about their citizenship by federal authorities, and to never lie about their citizenship status.
“If you are stopped and questioned, never say you are a citizen if you aren’t,” said Ravi Ragbir, an immigration advocate with the New York City-based New Sanctuary Coalition, “just give them your Municipal Identification Card.”
He also reminded the attendees that houses of worship are all sanctuaries, and said residents should try to know where houses of worship are located in the event they need sanctuary.
Gustavo Gutierrez, an attorney with the American Friends Service Committee, told residents who are not yet citizens that 80% of people in deportation proceedings do not have lawyers, and that they should keep a list of free legal immigration services (and their telephone numbers) with them at all times.
“We have a right,” he said, “to live in dignity in this country.”
Board of Education Director of Community Relations Mercedes Joaquin, who coordinated both sessions, said these programs and services will continue as long as they are necessary.
“The problems we are addressing not only impact adults,” she said, “they also have a huge impact on our children.”