On Saturday February 9th, members of the Fight for Driver’s Licenses Committee gathered to receive an Immigration and Deportation training. This training, which included presentations by Caitlin Barry, an immigration lawyer and longtime legal supporter of MMP and the Fight for Drivers’ Licenses, Dave Bennion, an immigration lawyer working with DreamActivist Pennsylvania, and Sheila Quintana and Cesar Marroquin, both members of DreamActivist Pennsylvania, gave participants a basic introduction into the immigration system, and deportation proceedings.
First, participants viewed a presentation entitled "What to do if you are pulled over," given by Pablo, with help from Jesse and Mari, all members of the Fight for Driver's License. This section offered some basic advice about what to do and what not to do while on the road. Next, they were given a run-down of what happens within 48 hours of being stopped, arrested and picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by Caitlin. Her presentation also detailed the difference between being stopped by the police, when one might be allowed to go free, being arrested by the police, which is separate from ICE, and being picked up by ICE and being put into removal proceedings. Lastly, Dave, Sheila and Cesar gave a presentation about the successful model of public campaigns for detainees, previously termed Education not Deportation (END) campaigns. This presentation emphasized the importance of community support, especially during deportation proceedings, to show the role that detainees play in their families and in their communities at large, whether it be at work, at church or in their community organizations. This community support can serve as the key impulse for letting the person out of detainment.
Throughout the training, members shared their personal experiences with the police and with ICE. Many members related with each others’ stories and shared outrage at the often unfair treatment they had received for the simple fact of driving without a driver’s license. These moments brought into focus the importance of this campaign, to end the economic and psychological suffering of members of our community and to ensure that every person, regardless of immigration status, has access to a livelihood and the opportunity to live with dignity.
Anybody interested in learning more about the immigration system and the process of deportation is invited to attend the next workshop on March 16th in San Martin de Tours Church, 5450 Roosevelt Blvd at 5:00 pm.