Wage theft and run-ins with law enforcement are top concerns for families ‘living in the shadows’
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – It’s seven simple yet, powerful words: “You have the right to remain silent.”
But that’s a phrase that many migrants who come to Melissa Lopez’s office never heard of before. If they had, they would not be seeking help to avoid deportation or another crushing major legal problem.
“State law requires that a person show identification. But the migrants we see don’t know they have the right not to talk to the police; they think they are required to disclose all of their information,” said Lopez, the executive director of El Paso’s Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services. “Most of the time, Immigration doesn’t have the information they need to deport you, but if you talk and give them that information, then they will.”
Lopez and DMRS are partners with the Mexican Consulate in El Paso in a weeklong crusade to educate the immigrant community here about their legal rights in the United States. Such rights apply regardless of immigration status.
The second annual External Legal Advice Week begins Monday, June 5, online and in person at the consulate on 910 E. San Antonio St. The talks will address information about fighting deportation, retaining custody of a child, filing domestic violence complaints, and your rights as a victim or a defendant in a criminal case.
“The goal is to inform the Mexican community and workers in El Paso of their legal rights and provide referrals to legal services outside the consulate,” said Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon. “This is the second (year) of the program and will take place in 50 American cities where we have consulates. This