By Michael K. Browne, Assistant Director — Complaint Investigations Unit
Diversity Director Karen Francois and Assistant Directors Michael K. Browne and Samuel Reid attended the press conference on behalf of the Department to support the new federal immigration policy. Victor Cedeno, the Department of Civil Rights’ ASH Center Fellow, from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government shared with us his thoughts about the press conference:
Last Friday the City of Minneapolis became the first U.S city to support the President’s new federal immigration policy to allow undocumented youth to remain in America. I attended the press conference and was very impressed with the actions of the Council and the coordination with the community.
As the press conference was being set up I immediately noticed that the crowd gathering looked different than the typical crowd of reporters and staff. The presence of Latino organizations and community members signaled to me that the Latino community is involved and aware of the actions of its local officials.
Council Members expressed their support for the policy and urged members of the community to come forward without fear and take advantage of this new benefit. The most notable speaker was an undocumented student from the University of Minnesota that is now eligible to remain in the country and attain a work permit.
I was impressed, and proud of the student (whose name I was not able to catch). He stood proudly in front of the cameras and declared that he is an undocumented student and could not wait for the chance to give back to his community as a teacher. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and be the face of thousands of students who have lived in fear of deportation due to inadequate immigration laws.
The City’s actions demonstrated that although the President’s new policy is a great breakthrough for young immigrants; it is up to localities to signal to their community that they can come forward without fear. There is a lot of misinformation, and undocumented immigrants are often distrustful of governments. They know about draconian laws such as those established by Arizona (which was mostly struck down by the Supreme Court) and do not want to expose themselves. Cities all across America should follow the lead of Minneapolis. Informing immigrants about this policy change is good for the students and for the city, and it is the right thing to do.
Thank you Victor for sharing your perspective and experience!