The event included several services and presentations, including: a “Know Your Rights” presentation, information on what to do in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, sign-ups for medical and food benefits, consultations with immigration attorneys, “Clean Slate” criminal record clearing for eligible candidates and more. All resources were free, with the exception of Clean Slate fingerprinting.
Emma Paulino, co-director of organizing and leadership at FIAEB — which is based in Oakland — said she was impressed with the turnout, which was at least twice the number of people who attended the event at the church last year.
After holding several immigration forums in Alameda County, Paulino was glad to organize this event for Contra Costa County after meeting with St. Anne Church’s pastor to gauge interest.
“(Bringing these resources to) East Contra Costa County is important, because places like Byron don’t have the services that people need,” Paulino said. “People are leaving here, getting what they need.”
More than 90 people had one-on-one consultations with immigration lawyers, and most people attended the event for more than one service, she said.
“People may not know how to protect themselves. We want them to have information on what to do ... When they are interacting with ICE, they can be silent; they don’t have to sign anything,” Paulino said. “It’s not about people who are undocumented. It’s about people who are of color, people who are poor, being targeted.”
She advises anyone who has been detained by ICE or is in need of immigration legal services to call Stand Together Contra Costa’s 24-hour rapid response hotline at 925-900-5151.
Paulino and FIAEB are glad that community members in need are being helped by the services, but she doesn’t want efforts to stop here.
“My hope is that people will continue organizing to build power and bring the community together,” she said. “Anything can happen when people come together.”
Looking forward, Paulino and FIAEB hope to continue empowering the people they serve through other avenues, like the U.S. Census, civic engagement, college workshops and housing.
An additional East County immigration resource forum is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16, at Holy Rosary Church, 1313 A St., in Antioch.
Faith In Action East Bay is “a multi-faith, multi-ethnic federation of over 55 congregations, 25 schools and allied community organizations, representing more than 50,000 families in the East Bay.” Its mission is to “work on issues such as education, violence prevention, immigration, housing and voter engagement.”
For more information on FIAEB, visit www.faithinaction.org/federation/faithinactioneastbay, or email Emma Paulino at email@example.com. For more information on Stand Together Contra Costa, visit www.standtogethercontracosta.org.