YONKERS, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 13, 2017) (REUTERS) – Days after U.S. federal immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least four states, in what officials called routine enforcement action, the consul general of Mexico to New York City met with a group of day laborers inside a small church to inform them of their legal rights.
About 100 people attended the meeting on Monday (February 13) inside the San Andres Church in Yonkers, New York. The meeting was held not far from where day laborers gather each morning to find work.
“Right now, we’re afraid. (I’m) afraid because I have a family – afraid of a raid or if they catch us on the street, anywhere. What’s going to happen to my family?” said Adelpho Dolores.
Dolores said he is from Mexico and has been in the United States for 29 years. Dolores said he usually works construction jobs and added that he has passport problems.
He said he came to the meeting for legal information “in case there is a raid and we’re detained.”
Leticia Sanatamaria also said she is from Mexico and has been in the U.S. for twenty years and works as a housekeeper.
“Well, my husband is undocumented. That’s why we’re here to support our community that is very nervous because of what the (U.S.) president is doing.”
During the meeting, Ambassador Diego Gomez Pickering offered the crowd information about what to do in case they are detained by law enforcement officials as well as a list of emergency phone numbers.
“What we tell the Mexican community is that on the one hand, they should not be afraid. All of them, regardless of immigration status, are subject to rights in this country, specifically in New York State, and that we are here for them and we’ll work together with a wide range of organizations across the state,” said Pickering.
“What we are against is separating families. We certainly do not believe this is something good. If you break families, which is the most important element of the society, you at the end, end up breaking up the society as well,” he added.
The meeting was arranged by the Catholic Charities Community Services. The Regional supervisor for the organization, Esmerelda Hoscoy, said the meeting was aimed at easing fears.
“More than anything we hear a lot of anxiety. People are literally feeling so much fear that they are afraid to leave their homes. They’re afraid to walk the streets. They’re afraid to go to work. They’re afraid to have their children attend school Monday through Friday. That’s a fear that needs to be calmed among our community.”
She added, “We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of refugees. We are a nation that really, really embraces itself with the different cultures and languages of other people. We have become the number one country because of who we are and because of the diversity of who we are. Taking that away from the American people would really be a tragedy.”
Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on Monday there has not been a rise yet in the number of deportations of Mexicans from the United States under President Donald Trump, but that consulates were receiving more worried phone calls.