By: Steph Solis
Despite mounting fears of raids, community organizers are urging Massachusetts immigrants to take advantage of a federal judge’s order that blocks immigration agents from arresting people at local courthouses, a move aimed to increase cooperation between witnesses or victims of crimes and local law enforcement.
It’s been a month since a federal judge authorized a preliminary injunction blocking Immigration and Customs Enforcement from arresting people at Massachusetts courthouses — one of few such restrictions on ICE arrests in the country.
But Yessenia Alfaro, deputy director of the Chelsea Collaborative, said she gets calls from local immigrants saying they’re afraid to go to court alone.
“Even though the order has taken effect, we still need to inform more of our community,” said Alfaro, who still gets calls from locals saying they’re afraid to go to court.
Alfaro still accompanies people to local courthouses despite the protections offered by the preliminary injunction.
The announcements about raids in recent weeks only confused immigrant communities more, prompting families to avoid appointments and church services.
Alfaro and other volunteers at the Chelsea Collaborative knocked on doors Monday night to pass out copies of the judge’s order and explain what it means to residents.
“We are organizing and mobilizing to go knock on doors and go door-to-door to give out information about their rights and about this order, so they’re not afraid to call the police, file wage theft complaints or tenant complaints,” she said in a Spanish-language interview.
John Willshire Carrera, co-managing director of the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic at Greater Boston Legal Services, passed out copies of the preliminary injunction during a “Know Your Rights” workshop last week at the Chelsea Collaborative.
“I think it’s important for people to know what their rights are, especially at this moment when people are so under attack, whether it’s for real or whether it’s rhetoric,” Carrera said.