As the threat of possible Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids increases in Orange County, Congressman Lou Correa addressed constituent concerns at two town hall meetings held last week.
Residents gathered at Santa Ana High School Thursday, Feb. 23 and the Rancho Santiago Community College District offices Friday, Feb. 24 for a bilingual meeting that included a panel of legal experts compiled by Correa. The main objective, he said, was to inform the public about their legal rights regarding ICE and how to act in accordance with new immigration policies implemented by President Donald Trump.
“I’m not saying to be scared but, be concerned,” said Correa at the RSCCD offices. “It is important that you know your rights.”
Correa serves the predominantly Hispanic California’s 46th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana. Correa’s panel of legal and immigration experts included Katelyn Brazer of The Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Jacquelyn M. Santos of Public Law Center and Sylvia Kim of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. The attendees were greeted with informational pamphlets and forms, then were given legal advice about potential run-ins with ICE during a brief Q&A session that was held immediately after the town hall. Questions varied from how to acquire a lawyer to what to do when detained.
“Once detained, what are the steps that happen after that on part of the individual and what can the family do or a friend in terms of trying to help?” asked a concerned attendee.
Brazer responded in Spanish.
“If someone is detained, the family should immediately contact an attorney. For the detainee, they should exercise their right to remain silent, not sign anything and insist on talking to an attorney,” she said.
The meeting at Santa Ana High School had the same panel and covered similar topics.
“Get an attorney. Get an attorney. It’s expensive but it’s well worth it,” Correa said to the attendees Thursday.
In hopes of offering relief, the congressman concluded the town hall by sharing his plans for future gatherings.
“We’re going to have more forums like this. I have to go back to Washington next week but, when I come back we’re going to do this again and again —trying to inform people how to comply with the law,” Correa said.