Letter to the Editor: Educate And Advocate

Letter to the Editor: Educate And Advocate

Regarding the Centreville Immigration Forum/Centreville Labor Resource Center (CIF/CLRC) response to recent immigration orders from the new administration, these orders are far-reaching and have potential effects that will be devastating for the community.

After the election in November, the CIF Board approved resolutions to allow our staff to respond to efforts by our colleagues who work more directly in the advocacy area. Even though the mission of CLRC is to enable safe and fair work opportunities for workers in the Centreville area, we need to educate and advocate on policies that affect our members.

CIF Executive Director Terry Angelotti wrote a letter to the editor a couple weeks ago, opposing the travel ban on persons from predominantly Muslim countries. We have members from around the world, including from some predominantly Muslim countries.

We also called a meeting of persons from nonprofits and churches in our area to discuss the challenges ahead. This group has met three times at CLRC (December, January, and February). In December we set up five working groups relating to police and public safety, coordinating response from faith groups, support for public schools, accompaniment for families, and getting the word out for Know Your Rights sessions.

At the January meeting we had presentations from local police and from Deputy County Executive David Rohrer; in February we invited representatives from local schools to meet with us. Both meetings were helpful and led to additional information-sharing. We have had about 35 participants overall representing about 15 different nonprofits and churches. All of us feel that we need to work together or we will not be able to serve the needs created by the recent orders.

At CIF, we have held two formal and many informal “Know Your Rights” sessions for our members; and staff and volunteers have participated in trainings on "Know Your Rights." We are organizing bilingual volunteers to assist families who are threatened and divided during this time.

Certainly, the recent orders and stepping up of raids in our area (throughout northern Virginia, including Centreville) have changed our work dramatically. All of our families and our staff are responding in every way that we can, and we will continue to do more in the days ahead.

Alice Foltz

Centreville Immigration Forum President