Immigrants in America: Concerns, Resources, and Priorities

CG4TX Immigration Panel

On Saturday, February 4 Common Ground hosted a panel discussion on Immigrants in America: Concerns, Resources and Priorities. Our panelists were:

  • Megan Sheffield from Texas Here to Stay, who hold “Know Your Rights” clinics for  immigrants.
  • Sarah Woelk from Casa Marianella, a homeless shelter serving recently-arrived immigrants and asylum seekers.
  • Elaine Cohen from the Austin Sanctuary Network, a multi-faith coalition seeking justice and dignity for immigrants by providing sanctuary.  Elaine brought with her Hilda Ramirez who receives sanctuary at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin.  Hilda’s story was made public by the Washington Post.

Texas Here to Stay (THTS) is a coalition of immigrant legal services providers and advocacy groups dedicated to strengthening our diverse community by ensuring access to legal information and services for all immigrants. They host Know Your Rights free clinics given by immigrant attorneys with presentations and immigration consultations for any individual seeking immigration information and legal services.

Casa Marianella is a volunteer-driven emergency homeless shelter in east Austin, serving recently-arrived immigrants and asylum seekers from around the world.

Austin Sanctuary Network is a multi-faith coalition of congregations in and around Austin that have been invited to join the larger immigrant rights struggle. Together with those at risk of deportation and their families and allies, they seek justice and dignity by opening their doors to provide sanctuary as a tool to achieve those goals.

The panelists helped us understand the different ways folks can immigrate to the U.S., the relevant government agencies that are involved, and the terminology used by these agencies and by the media.

During the Q&A there were several questions regarding Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s position on ICE detainers.  What is an ICE detainer?

According to Wikipedia an ICE detainer – or immigration hold –is a written request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal.”  The operative word is request rather than, say, demand.

According to the ACLU an ICE detainer—or “immigration hold”—is one of the key tools U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to apprehend individuals who come in contact with local and state law enforcement agencies and put them into the federal deportation system. An ICE detainer is a written request that a local jail or other law enforcement agency detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes.

All those who attended learned an enormous amount.  We hope these documents will help you understand the ins and outs of this most complicated and heart wrenching issue.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *