Allston and Brighton Forum Fields Immigration Concerns

Copley Protest
Boston residents protest President Donald Trump's immigration order in January.

A panel aimed at helping service providers to Allston and Brighton immigrants respond to President Donald Trump’s recent immigration policies convened last Thursday to inform immigrant advocates of correct information and resources.

The panel, staffed by attorneys and professionals involved in immigrant advocacy, featured presentations on understanding the deportation process, identifying scams and misinformation provided to immigrants, and directing constituents to appropriate immigration resources. Approximately 25 service providers—in industries like childcare, education, and health care—attended the event.

Jo-Ann Barbour, Executive Director of Charlesview Inc., a community housing nonprofit in Allston-Brighton, organized the event.

“We thought it was important to provide a forum for primarily service providers, people who are working with immigrants and their families, so that we could all get the same information and be on the same page,” she said.

Of the 22 neighborhoods in Boston, Allston comes eighth highest by foreign-born population at 25.4 percent, and Brighton comes eleventh highest at 23.8 percent, according to a 2015 survey by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Barbour said Charlesview residents often voice concerns about their extended family members to her.

“I’m hearing more and more about fear of traveling. Indeed, the folks at the forum said probably not a good idea to travel even in country, never mind going out of country,” Barbour said.

She added: “The fears are real.”

Barbour said immigrant families can be afraid to get health care, despite the fact that health clinics provide care regardless of immigration status.

“Allston and Brighton is a welcoming community and we’ll do everything that we can to assist families that need to get engaged with services and programs,” Barbour said.

Boston's Department of Immigration Advancement has reported an increase in the number of requests for their services since Trump has taken office. An J. Le, policy and communications advisor for the department, said he has been conducting an analysis of constituents’ requests to the Department of Immigrant Advancement.

“We tracked phone calls, walk-ins, emails, folks who came to our office directly, and to the mayor, which gets routed to our office,” Le said. “In the last three months, it’s gone up by 65 percent, compared to the calendar year of 2016.”

The department also holds bi-monthly immigration consultation clinics with volunteer lawyers, which Le said have also seen a significant growth in attendance.

Lifetime Brighton resident Charlie Vasiliades said one of the things he cherishes about his neighborhood is its “multi-ethnic home ownership.”

He added that immigrants have positively contributed to building a sense of community in Allston and Brighton.

“What people perceive as a threat, frankly, is absentee owners buying property and filling them with transient young people, students, who pass through,” he said.

Panel participants included Jessica Chicco, an attorney with the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project at Boston College Law School; Sarah Aller, the Immigration Services Coordinator at Allston Brighton Community Development; Carol Q. León from the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement; Andrew P. Cohen from Health Law Advocates; and Marcony Almeida-Barros from the Attorney General’s Community Engagement Division.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.

—Staff writer Sarah Wu can be reached at sarah.wu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_wu_.

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