The Rural Organizing Project and the Lane County-based Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) traveled rural Oregon last fall bringing “Know your Rights” presentations to 7 communities across the state, reaching over 190 people including immigrants & allies alike.
The tour was on the road from October 1st – December 11th, 2011, stopping in towns in Western and Eastern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and the Coast. It was so exciting to see cultures come together to share their personal experiences and food. This speaks very highly of the work that human dignity groups have been doing toward reducing the isolation gap between Latinos and whites in rural and small-town Oregon.
The tour was part of ROP’s ongoing and intentional effort to support Latinos in rural areas and their allies. We will keep expanding the work and the tools we offer. Did you miss the tour this time? Take a look at our Know Your Rights toolkit on the ROP website to get started.
The “Know your Rights” presentations were bilingual, presenting the information in both English and Spanish at every stop. The information presented is not only important, it is urgent to take it to all of those families and individuals that are most targeted by law enforcement, like immigrants and people of color. Simple driving infractions are rapidly becoming the #1 reason people go through deportation proceedings nowadays. It is our duty as engaged members of our community to empower everybody to learn how to enforce their own rights.
Participants were informed about their rights when dealing with police and ICE officials, and a “Safety Packet” sample was shared so families can be ready in tough situations, like when faced with the deportation of a family member. How is this “safety packet” helpful? One example is if a parent is deported, their children can be taken into custody of Child Protective Services. After 6 months of having no contact with the children, the parent(s) legally lose their parental rights. Having a Power of Attorney prepared beforehand can prevent this from happening.
Attorney Lauren Regan, of the CLDC, gave useful information about what immigrants can do to protect themselves and how allies can also be helpful in this or any other situation. The presentations were a great opportunity to provide a safe space in which immigrants openly asked questions of a personal nature and shared their past experiences with no fear and no shame. Others decided to ask questions directly to Lauren who made herself available after the presentations to offer her free legal advice more privately.
The support so many allies showed before, during, and after the presentation was incredibly important. They broke the language and cultural barrier by showing how much fellow community members not only care about the immigrant community, but they are willing to bring the “Know your Rights” presentation to their towns to ensure their community is safe for everyone. The need to have more presentations was expressed at every single stop!
ROP’s “Know Your Rights” toolkit developed on the road is now available for those interested in giving this presentation in your own community, or in making informational brochures and handouts available. You can find this toolkit on our website.
Will there be another “Know your Rights” tour in 2012? We’ll keep you posted! Until then look for another ROPnet soon with information about the 2nd annual Rural Latino Leadership Retreat! We’ll have a Know Your Rights workshop available there for those leaders who want to learn the information, and bring it back to their community.
We also want to express our gratitude to the warm welcome given to ROP & CLDC staff during the tour. As always, ROP’s work would not happen without the hard work and hospitality of Human Dignity Groups.