Santa Paula Times

Know Your Rights! Meeting focuses on what happens if detained

March 17, 2017
Santa Paula News

Every family that includes undocumented members needs to have a plan for what will happen to their children should family members be detained, those that attended a special workshop in Santa Paula learned.

The March 2 “Know Your Rights!” event filled the auditorium at Isbell Middle School with hundreds of people to hear what the future could bring for those in the United States illegally, as well as legally.

Sponsored by Santa Paula Latino Town Hall, CAUSE and LULAC the gathering featured information tables including the Ventura County Health Care Agency. 

Diane Martinez of Santa Paula was providing one-on-one translation services for non-Spanish speakers at the gathering, which featured presentations by attorneys, elected officials, the Mexican Consulate, SPUSD Superintendent Alfonso Gamino and Police Chief Steve McLean, among others.

Latino Town Hall President Lorenzo Moraza welcomed the crowd. 

Attorneys Vanessa Frank and Renee Dehesa emphasized how important it is for families to have a plan and a representative of the Mexican Consul in Oxnard spoke of their increased services. 

The attorneys urged that temporary guardianships for children be set up with friends or family members to demonstrate to a judge the parents’ wishes as well as the willingness of the named guardian to fulfill that role. 

“They are stressing how important it is for parents to have an emergency plan,” Martinez translated, “and have a designated person to take over the children,” in case of detainment.

And, she added, lists must be prepared with “full information” including contacts related to the children including relatives, friends, doctors, health issues, schools, teachers’ names, sports, “As much as you can think to write down that will be helpful.”

Children should have passports “and get dual citizenship now,” Martinez said an attorney urged in case their parents are deported to arrange visits.

Children who are old enough should have knowledge of the foster care wishes of the parents, in case children are home alone, at a caregiver’s or at school when their parents are detained. 

The attorneys said being detained is traumatic and harsh: parents are only allowed two phone calls, one to a family member and one to their attorney, and, if deported, they would not be allowed to come home to say goodbye to family members.

Nonhuman assets should also be considered: “Designate a financial helper that you trust — and if you don’t have anyone you trust,” retain an attorney to act on your behalf when it comes to property, savings and business. 

The goal, Martinez said the attorney’s were stressing, “Is to keep your children out of the foster care system, to make sure the children are not considered abandoned,” and placed outside the circle of family and friends.

Another point being made by the speakers said Moraza, is that those with residency status should apply for citizenship now. 

Federal officials have stated that recent actions are just repeats of enforcement conducted on a regular basis, arresting those wanted for law breaking either in the US or other countries. 

The Santa Paula Unified School District has adopted a policy of not allowing immigration officers to disrupt campuses while Ventura County law enforcement, including Santa Paula Police, have issued a joint statement that makes it clear they are not involved in immigration issues other than those that involve lawbreakers. 

Fear has been rising in the immigrant community that even those in the US legally could be subject to deportation or caught up accidentally in enforcement actions.