Small communities across the U.S. are finding ways to show support for their undocumented immigrant neighbors while the wait for immigration reform continues on Capitol Hill. Undocumented immigrants are enduring one of the most difficult periods in their history. As a recent investigation by the New York Times revealed, President Barack Obama’s administration has deported almost 2 million individuals, more than any other presidency in recent memory. However, the news doesn’t deter family and friends from gathering to discuss and advocate for new immigration policies in forums and organized action
Protecting undocumented citizens
In Lorain, Ohio, the city’s undocumented immigrant population seems small compared to those in larger metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or New York City. But that hasn’t stopped the city’s chief of police, Celestino Rivera, from preventing his neighbors from being deported due to minor infractions. After sitting in on group counseling sessions, in which Rivera listened to numerous stories of undocumented immigrants being pulled over for minor traffic violations, he wrote an order forbidding his agents to contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Border Patrol. Rivera’s efforts have enabled the hundreds of immigrants living in his city to feel free from fear of deportation for minor infractions.
Public forums shed light on immigration issues
Citizens of Lancaster, Penn., have also expressed concern about their undocumented immigrant neighbors, but in a much more productive way. Lancaster is home to a diverse group of immigrants who are involved in local farms and related agricultural industries, and a forum held earlier this month by the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County focused on the positive impact immigrants have made in the community. Kam Mang, a Burmese refugee, told his story about being relocated to Lancaster County through the help of Christian World Services, which he now works for as an employment specialist. Lancaster-based attorney Oscar Barbosa also explained the challenges his hard-working clients face when dealing with deportation and criminal prosecution.
Workers like Rivera, Mang and Barbosa are shining examples of communities showing support for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. today.