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(WHITE PLAINS, NY) This past Friday, close to a hundred direct service care providers from all over Westchester County convened at a meeting of the Board of Legislators Families Task Force to learn more about how to best serve their immigrant communities.
During this time of such fear and uncertainty, Leg. Borgia and Kathy Halas (Executive Director, Child Care Council of Westchester & Co-Chair Families Task Force) put together a group of panelists to help breakdown what the current outlook of immigration in the United States is and what to do to help assist those in need.
Panelists at the workshop, which was co-sponsored by NonProfit Westchester, included: Karin Anderson Ponzer, Legal Services Director of Neighbors Link Community Law Practice, speaking on the national landscape and recent executive orders. Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link, discussing the new polices impact on the community. Professor Vanessa Merton, John Jay Legal Services, discussed the relationship between ICE and local law enforcement and what local governments can do to protect immigrants. Lastly, Nice E. Feit, Staff Attorney, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley and Hamra Ahmad, Executive Director, Hudson Valley Justice Center, discussed immigrant family preparedness.
“We created our task force to work on issues that have a large impact on Westchester County’s families and in light of what is happening to our immigrant brothers and sisters, we felt this was a needed workshop to host,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia, who has recently introduced the Immigrant Protection Act, a bill that would restrict the use of County funds to assist in federal immigration enforcement. “Thank you to all of the panelists who joined us and shared their expertise. I, as well as many others who attended, learned a great deal of new information and best practices that we can work to institute. Westchester County is a welcoming community and we all must work together to ensure it stays that way,” added Borgia.
"By far the most effective way for Westchester County to ensure the just and accurate treatment of all its noncitizens – those with various types of visa as well as those who are nondocumented – is to help make competent, ethical legal representation available to those who cannot otherwise obtain it. Without quality representation for immigrants, the federal government will continue to break its own law and make terrible mistakes that destroy the lives of those qualified for and deserving of lawful status in this country,” said Professor Vanessa Merton, John Jay Legal Services
“There are approximately 60,000 undocumented immigrants that live in Westchester County, most of them are the parents of US citizen children,” added Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link. “To have these parents live in fear of deportation has a profound negative effect on their children's ability to succeed academically and emotionally. If parents are deported, we know from the Migration Policy Institute that most of these parents will leave their children in the United States. Westchester County will be faced with a significant challenge and cost to ensure these children, mostly US Citizens, thrive without their parents,” concluded Bracco.