Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 | 2:54 p.m.
A public workshop on immigration rights had to be moved to a larger venue space this morning after attendance was roughly double what organizers expected.
Originally setup in a 90-person capacity meeting space inside the East Las Vegas Community Center, the “Know Your Rights” forum organized by the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus was moved to a larger ballroom to accommodate the approximately 200 people who showed up to hear elected officials, legal professionals and law enforcement discuss immigration issues and answer questions from the public. A livestream of the event on Facebook was viewed more than 2,500 times by early afternoon.
Panelists from Metro Police, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Immigration Lawyers Association provided information related to immigration and answered questions from attendees. Several questions were related to the relationship between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Jacinto Rivera with Metro Police attempted to assure attendees that local police are not enforcing immigration and that their priority is violent crime.
“People are hearing things thirdhand,” he said. “They’re hearing it from their brother, cousin, neighbor… We are trying to dispel rumors. We cannot have a segment of the population not trust us and not call us when they see something, or if they become a victim of crime themselves.”
The ACLU provided handouts detailing advice for undocumented immigrants who may encounter ICE. It included tips like not answering the door until you verify that the immigration officer has a warrant signed by a judge and invoking your right to remain silent until you have a lawyer present.
“Regardless of your status, you have constitutional rights,” said Amy Rose, legal director of ACLU of Nevada.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., made an appearance and promised “to fight for families.” Cortez Masto, the first Latina elected to the Senate, referenced a bill she filed on Thursday that would reverse an executive order signed by President Trump to defund sanctuary cities and counties.
“You are no different from me,” she told the crowd. “You are not criminals. The only thing you are guilty of is doing right by your family.”
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., one of the first formerly undocumented immigrants to serve in Congress, also spoke.
“I’ve done the struggle of being here in this country undocumented,” he told the crowd. “I know what it’s like to live in fear. I know what it’s like to have to hide when you see a border patrol truck.”
He then stressed the importance of being politically active and using one's voice despite increased anxiety among the immigrant community. He referenced the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which he is a member, being denied to a meeting with the ICE last week.
“Now is not the time to be tired. Now is not the time to be depressed. Now is not the time to hide. We need you.”
State Sen. Mo Denis, State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz and Assemblyman William McCurdy II were also in attendance.
“It’s evident by today’s attendance that the community is in need of information,” Diaz said. “There is a lot of fear about what might happen. Everything is happening so fast, so people need to know their rights.”