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Local

Foster hosts immigration panel to try to allay fears

Foster promises to support legislation to protect immigrant families

(Left to right) Susan Brachmeier, State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Beatriz Rosa, representative from Family Focus of Aurora,  sit in on a panel June 22 at East Aurora High School. The event was held to educate, inform and update the public on the immigration crisis and what legislators are doing to address the issues.
(Left to right) Susan Brachmeier, State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and Beatriz Rosa, representative from Family Focus of Aurora, sit in on a panel June 22 at East Aurora High School. The event was held to educate, inform and update the public on the immigration crisis and what legislators are doing to address the issues.

AURORA – Ahead of the postponement of the June 23 targeted raids planned for migrant families in major cities across the nation, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, hosted a panel discussion and workshop to help prepare constituents for the worst.

President Donald Trump and his administration recently announced plans to deport thousands, only to postpone the operation for two weeks.  

The delay reportedly will give Democrats time to come to the table to address issues at the U.S.-Mexico border before allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to receive the green light to proceed.

“It’s not been an easy time,” Foster said, referring to news of the postponed raids. “One of the reasons it’s so troubling [is] to see the current administration’s continuing efforts to instill fear in immigrants. I think it’s a direct-conscious policy and also to halt any efforts to pass legislation that would actually help them.”

The federal government has come under fire in the past for its handling of the immigration crisis. Last year, Trump rolled out the “Zero-Tolerance Policy,” a measure that separated thousands of children from their families at the border.

Ahead of the postponed raid, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed onto legislation that creates separation between local law enforcement agencies and ICE officials with regard to sharing information.

The current federal administration has rolled back a number of protections for immigrants over time.

“Cruelty may not be a strong enough word to describe these policies,” Foster said. “I also want to be clear that the blame for this is squarely with President Trump and his administration. It’s important that we work together to take a stand against these inhumane policies.”

Foster touted recent legislation known as the Dream and Promise Act, which helps provide Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients a pathway to citizenship and Temporary Protected Status (IPS) immigrants a source of relief when disaster strikes in their country of origin.

Foster promised to continue supporting legislation in support of immigrants and pathways to citizenship.

Hernandez said she would be happy to work with Foster to find a way to help create change.

Foster said one of the things people have to understand is the long-term return for the nation’s investment in foreign aid.

“If we had been providing more foreign aid to Central America and had governments that were functioning better and economies that were functioning better, the chaos on our border would have been much less,” he said.

Foster said much of the public doesn’t have a correct understanding as to how much foreign aid is distributed by the U.S.

“They think about a third of all of your tax dollars goes to foreign governments,” he said. “The true answer is less than a percent.”

Also at the event, a workshop enabled attendees to learn more about certified resources in the area to help support migrant families.

Common advice shared by the panelists addressed what to do if confronted by ICE officials, where to seek help with immigration issues and why it’s important to know your rights.

In an event that an undocumented individual or a family is approached by ICE officials, attendees were encouraged to follow a multi-part procedure that consists of avoiding the desire to resist, stating your name and date of birth, remaining silent, not signing papers and seeking legal representation.

Attendees were advised to seek accredited help with immigration issues from professionals working for nonprofit organizations such as Family Focus of Aurora and World Relief DuPage/Aurora.

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