shutterstock_171841433Monday night, the Princeton, New Jersey Human Services Commission hosted a program addressing President Obama’s Executive Order on DACA and DAPA.  The Princeton community has been out in front building bridges with immigrants that live in the municipality.

The DACA/DAPA event was the most recent in a series of town programs designed to reach out to Princeton immigrants.  Two years ago, the community’s Police Department partnered with the Human Services Commission to build a better understanding within the police force of concerns in the immigrant community about interacting with local law enforcement officials.  The Princeton Police Department laid out policy guidelines limiting local law enforcement participation in immigration enforcement activity.  The effort to deputize local police as immigration enforcement officers has been long-recognized in our community as a stumbling block to public safety and building trust with immigrants.

The work of Princeton’s Police Department and Human Services Commission have advanced the goals of community policing activity meant to give immigrants the confidence to contact and interact with the police, particularly if they are victims or witness of crimes.   The members of Princeton’s immigrant community who turned out for Monday night’s program learned more about the federal court’s injunction in Texas of extended DACA and DAPA.  Joining me on the panel were Tatiana Durbak, John Leschak and Aleksandra Gontaryuk.

This kind of outreach can make a real difference in the community. Immigration law is confusing and complicated for attorneys, let alone the public. Yes, it means giving up a few hours of your time to preparation and the appearance itself, but it opens up communication and allows for a forum where people feel safe asking questions. I encourage other AILA chapters to reach out to local organizations and municipal commissions to find similar opportunities and touch base with AILA National for the latest news and information on the issue you’re covering.

Written by Ryan Stark Lilienthal, Advocacy Liaison, AILA New Jersey Chapter