by Ariel Guillory
The Montgomery County chapter of the ACLU, the Woman’s Democratic Club, the Progressive Democrats of America and several other progressive organizations hosted a panel discussion last week that provided members of the community with information about the immigration system in the United States and what steps could be taken to improve it.
“Living in fear that the Immigration and Customs Police will one day knock down your door is horrible,” Ricardo Campos said. “When Trump became president, it became a big threat to DACA and those fears became more of a reality.”
Campos, Luis Aguliar and Claudia Quinonez were all children when they came to the United States with their families.
Through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA (which states that immigrants who entered the United States as minors can receive a renewable 2-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit), they were able to work and attend college in this country.
They each spoke about how DACA granted them the opportunity to live in the United States without the fear of deportation and to pursue their educational goals.
“The current channels (to achieve citizenship) are not working for anyone,” Campos said.
During his campaign, President Trump made several promises to end the DACA program and widely criticized immigration policies that provided amnesty to immigrants who came to the U.S. without going through the standard channels of citizenship.
Jared Solomon, an education lobbyist, spoke about the many injustices experienced by immigrants who are imprisoned because they are unable to obtain citizenship.
“Don’t believe that your tax dollars are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” said Susan Cruz. “There is no dignity or humanity in the way these people are being treated.”
According to Cruz and Solomon, immigrants are often beaten and tormented by prison guards in these correctional facilities and vital medications and food are often withheld at the guards’ discretion.
These prisons are also often located in remote areas that are several miles away from the nearest hospital or hotel where their families can stay to visit them, and many immigrants die due to the conditions they are forced to endure during confinement.
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who represents Maryland’s District 18 in Montgomery County, acted as the keynote speaker for the event, which concluded with an invitation to go to Capitol Hill on June 23 to fight for the passing of a law stating that anyone who has been under temporary protective services for at least 10 years can automatically be granted citizenship.
“Montgomery County has the second largest population of people under temporary protective service in the U.S., meaning that there should be no shortage of support from this county,” said Cruz.
“These are quiet but important battles that need to be fought.”
If you would like to participate in some way to causes related to improving the quality of life of immigrants, you can do one, or all of the following:
- Text: “Here to Stay” to 877
- Join and immigration advocacy programs in your home state or county
- Call the Immigration hotline: 844-363-1423