NORTHEAST – State Representative Armando Walle hosted a two night Forum last week, on the subject of Immigration and DACA status. The events were held at MacArthur and Aldine High Schools, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Parents, students, and the public attended, and each program had about 75 to 100 persons in the audience.
Speakers at MacArthur included Walle, Jill Campbell of BakerRipley, Cesar Espinosa of FIEL, and two representatives from the local Mexican Consulate.
The program was presented in both English, and Spanish, with translation for English only speakers.
Topics that were covered included SB4, DACA, Know Your Rights, Immigration information, and Consular Services.
Representative Walle opened the evening with remarks about his own situation as an American with Mexican parents, and problems that his family has had, and how his interest and advocacy was related to that background. He also noted that the majority of his constituents were os Hispanic heritage. He explained that the meeting would give information on two important topics, SB4 or the “Show Me Your Papers” Texas law, and DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He said that because of SB4, in Texas it is okay for the police to ask about your immigration status if you are stopped for a violation. But you have the right to remain silent, and not answer any questions except to identify yourself. Cards were available with all the answers to “Know Your Rights” which are fairly complicated.
Jill Campbell of BakerRipley made an extensive presentation on Immigration help, and ways to avoid deportation. She indicated that anyone that needed help could contact BakerRipley at 713-273-3707 for free legal help on DACA renewal assistance. Offices are on Navigation Blvd., and Rookin Streer. When the Town Center is finished in East Aldine, there will be an immigration office in the BakerRipley complex, too.
Campbell said that there are 800,000 in the U. S. with DACA status, and 68,000 in Harris County. Although President Trump has ordered that DACA cannot be renewed, nevertheless a court in California says this is not valid, and you can still renew your status. Campbell urged everyone to renew soon. If you are subject to deportation, she said it was imperative to contact an immigration attorney, especially before you checkin with ICE. She said that is you have a Green Card, it cannot be taken away. Immigration attorney advice is also important if you have protected status, or need Visa renewal. BakerRipley can help with the paperwork involved. If you think you need advice, there is an Immigration hotline in Houston, 1-833-HOU-IMMI.
The next speaker was Cesar Espinosa of FIEL, which is an organization specializing in support of undocumented students seeking a higher education. FIEL has a legal clinic, and can help students enter college. Call 713-364-3435 for help, or contact them at their website: www.fielhouston.org.
Espinosa discussed In State Tuition for Undocumented Students, with HB1403/SB1528. These bills allow undocumented students to apply to any public college, and receive Texas state financial aid. He also discussed TAFSA, which allows financial aid grants to students. FIEL is an organization which helps apply for either type of aid. Their office is at 6610 Harwin #214.
A representative from the Mexican Consul’s office presented a talk in Spanish, explaining servfices the consulate provides, and what Immigration and DACA services the could help with.
After the formal presentations in the auditorium, information tables and individual counseling sessions were held in the lobby. Several organizations had informational literature, including BakerRipley and FIEL, and the Mexican Consul.