Photo by Justin Valas

“Somos nuestro comunidad,” Fernando Mejia from the NC Justice Center told the crowd. This is our community. “Y nos estamos organizando.” And we are organizing ourselves.

Yesterday we assisted Fernando in a “Know Your Rights” class in Asheboro, NC, which provided members of the local immigrant community important information about their constitutional rights. The information is vital for fostering a healthy relationship between the immigrant community and local law enforcement.

Photo by Esteban Ginocchio

Fernando and Rosario explained some of the basic rights everyone has when they encounter the police. With tempers flared and immigration law being in a complicated, quickly-changing state of affairs, it is especially important that immigrants are aware of their constitutional rights.

J. Valas

With a language barrier as well as being unfamiliar with a web of overlapping local, state and federal laws, it’s often best to remain silent until a lawyer can assist you. To help explain everyone’s legal rights, we gave out cards and pamphlets that they can keep with them at all times.

J. Valas

After a brief presentation and video, the audience divided into small groups to act out different situations in which immigrants might find themselves. While the issue is very serious, everyone had a good time. We even had a few good actors.

E. Ginocchio

While our team focuses on the DREAM Act, a confluence issues threaten the immigrant community. Standing together is of the utmost importance. Who else will defend the rights of a group that more and more suggest don’t deserve any? As is the case with the DREAM Team, those in our team who are undocumented are helping explain constitutional rights to those whose legal situation is better than their own.

While politicians, like Rep. Luis Guiterrez have claimed that DREAMers have divided the movement, that is anything but the case. DREAMers are proving themselves to be the natural leaders of their community, and among the most fiery advocates for greater reform.