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LULAC hosts community immigration forum

Judicial, education, and law enforcement officials spoke this weekend at an immigration forum hosted by LULAC. Some government officials were also in attendance.
The LULAC Immigration Forum was hosted at the Hollister Community Center. Photo by Nicholas Preciado

Community members gathered seeking information on immigration at the Hollister Community Center on Saturday, March 24. The event was hosted by a local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Attendees were told that their personal information is safe with Hollister schools.  Local law enforcement encouraged undocumented community members to feel safe reporting crimes stating, "..we don't share that information with the federal government.”

Mark Sanchez, event emcee and LULAC member explained to the group, “What the purpose of our meeting is about is to exchange information, but most importantly it is to answer any questions that people may have."

Panelists with expertise in the fields of immigration, education, and law enforcement spoke to an audience of around 50 people that included Hollister Councilwoman Mickie Luna, Councilman Jim Gillio, and San Benito County Supervisor Mark Medina. Panelists were available to meet individually with attendees toward the end of the forum.

“We all have rights, regardless of our immigration status,” said Lizett Rodriguez, a law student and intern at the University of San Francisco School of Law Immigrant Legal Resource Center. She showed attendees a red, pocket-sized business card with printed constitutional rights helpful to people who encounter U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

“If you ever have any encounters with ICE officers, this is the card you show them,” Rodriguez said. “My main message is even if you are undocumented, you all have rights that are part of the constitution.”

As far as the local education system goes, regional institutions never provide the immigration status of a student, according to San Benito County Superintendent of Schools and LULAC Vice President Krystal Lomanto.

“It is a safe place for students,” Lomanto said. “Our job is to provide education and support for students. We do not give out information about our students under confidentiality, privacy, board policy, and education code because we want to make sure that every student receives an education.”

Even so, local schools are still required to comply with any federal subpoenas issued.

“But even if we complied with that subpoena, we have no information because we don’t ask,” Hollister School District Superintendent Lisa Andrew said. “We have been very vocal about this is a place for students to come and be educated. This isn’t a place for a political agenda or anything of that nature.”

As the conversation shifted to law enforcement, San Benito County Sheriff Darren Thompson encouraged undocumented people to still report crimes in the community.

“We want their statements when they witness a crime,” Thompson said. “We want them to live safely in our community. If they are afraid to interact with us because they’re concerned about deportation, they’re going to not report those crimes, therefore making our community less safe.”

Operations Captain Eric Taylor said that immigration and immigration violations are a federal issue, not a state and local issue.

“We at the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office do not enforce immigration law,” Taylor said. “If you come and report a crime to me, we don’t go and tell ICE that you don’t have documentation and that you’re a crime victim. We need the support of the community, we need you to report, we want to take care of you and protect you.”

He continued.

“There should be no fear in reporting crime to us. There should be no fear in participating in the court process. There should be no fear in being a witness and helping your community stay safe because we don’t share that information with the federal government.”


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nicholaspreciado's picture
Nicholas Preciado (nicholaspreciado)

Nicholas Preciado is content manager for BenitoLink, as well as a writer, editor, and journalist. He previously worked at the Hollister Free Lance, Gilroy Dispatch, and Morgan Hill Times newspapers. Nick graduated from Humboldt State University in 2013 with a B.A. in English Writing Practices and a minor in journalism.


Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

I'm very interested to ask about the Patron or Padron system as used in Latin America as a possible model for the Homeless situation in the US. This is a really an academic discussion but very interested if anyone else thinks there may be merit in the study of that antiquated model for a modern problem. I've worked personally and professionally with immigrants and homeless and there are many that may never make the transition to fully employed, fully housed and fully within the framework of our legal system. Most homeless and many immigrants live what I call "below the law" which means there is no sustainable financial model to address their situation. 

The question in my mind is there a need to revisit an old social model to solve a current crisis? Thoughts? 

The only crisis I can see is the election of Donald J. Trump as president. 

Context: That fool had a campaign platform that identified Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, decided without evidence that America needs a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it and that the DACA/so-called 'Dreamers' program implemented by president Obama had to end by March 8, 2018. 

Since you no longer live here, Tod, you really don't have a clue about what's going on in San Benito County to address the homeless issue - they now have a shelter - and the Latino community's concern via LULAC to host informational events featuring local law enforcement to weigh-in on quality of life/civil rights for undocumented workers and their families.

Revisiting an 'old social model to solve a current crisis' is equivalent to believing the Cambridge Analytica/Bannon/Trump slogan to 'Make America Great Again'. It's Baloney Sausage, commonly abbreviated as B.S. 

Trump in 2016: "Who's going to pay for the wall?" "Mexico!!!"

Trump in 2017: "Who's going to pay for the wall?" "Taxpayers!!!"

Trump in 2018: "Who's going to pay for the wall?" "The Department of 'Da-Fence'" aka, the military.

Simply, ridiculous!!!

Mike, It always amuses me when things turn on their ear, as the saying goes.  The "wall" that is there now was built "from 1994 as part of three larger "Operations" to taper transportation of illegal drugs manufactured in Latin America and immigration: Operation Gatekeeper in California, Operation Hold-the-Line[ in Texas, and Operation Safeguard in Arizona.

"Operation Gatekeeper was a measure implemented during the Presidency of Bill Clinton by the United States Border Patrol (then a part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)), aimed at halting illegal immigration to the United States at the United States–Mexico border near San Diego, California. According to the INS, the goal of Gatekeeper was "to restore integrity and safety to the nation's busiest border."

Operation Gatekeeper was announced in Los Angeles on September 17, 1994, by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and was launched two weeks later on October 1."

If the NRA is responsible for all the firearms deaths. then it stands to reason that those who refuse to secure the borders in the Southwest are responsible for all the heroine deaths, addiction and related misery that comes across.

As far as presidential candidates go, the Republicans nominated a uninformed tweet- buffon and the Democrats nominated a scheming lying crook who would steal anything that was not nailed down.  I knew my decision to vote for neither was the right one.

Since one of them was bound to win due to support from blind partisan lemmings on both sides, it finally came true - ANYONE can become President of the United States.   

Marty Richman

Okay, not sure where you're weighing in here, but we had a truly INSPIRATIONAL president in Barack Obama. A president who turned our economy, our nation, our resolve, our dedication to decency and moral equity into reality in two terms - 8 short years - into a legacy that Trump was determined to undermine as a matter of course.

He did so with the help of Russia, alt-right nationalists, white supremacists and plutocrats lining up behind his agenda. Failing to win the popular vote - and carried by the electoral college - he attempts to rule the judiciary, the House of Congress and the media with autocratic authority such as Putin and Banana Republics around the world. 

Glad you didn't vote for Trump or Clinton, so you can boast a certain moral authority. But the essence of the article is about LULAC in San Benito County giving voice to immigrants who - subject to debate - contribute to the economic development of the agricultural-based economy that advances finance and community well-being as well as cultural fiber for generations; past, present and future. 

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Guys, we are the only three who actually read and rant here, so let's keep it focused. Nobody is listening or reading so we can keep saying whatever we want. Can you get back to the question I presented? It's academic of course but interesting. The homeless are everywhere, just heard that Portland, OR spent $3 million last year on cleanups. The shelters are barely helping a few and most help only women with children. The men are on the streets all day and night into perpetuity. The President is irrelevant to this topic, so stay focused! Let's move to solutions vs rants...I promise to be good. 

At least when I disagree with Marty, he tends to bring data and facts to this forum to support his arguments. 

Can you at least deliver some sort of factual data to support your bias about homeless people in the county which is, of course, a meaningless distraction from the topic of LULAC hosting a public meeting to address the Trump administration harassment and intended deportation of the undocumented Latino population being driven underground in San Benito County?

You've demonstrated that you don't understand the problem, so the validity of your so-called 'solutions' is suspect in the first place. 


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