From TheSunGazette.com, 3 Aug 2011.
[Farmersville, CA] — For most of us, knowing what to do and what not to do when a police officer stops you is something you learn before you get your driver’s license. But for those who are new to this country, the concept of citizen rights and responsibilities can seem alien.
That’s why last week, Farmersville-based Proyecto Campesino decided to go out to the rural communities of Tulare County and inform immigrant residents in Lindsay and Woodlake of their rights.
Miguel Baez, program coordinator for Proyecto, said the example of getting pulled over by a police officer is a good illustration of what many farmworkers don’t know.
“They don’t know that if an officer stops them and asks their immigration status that they have the right to remain silent,” Baez said. “Also, they don’t know that if an officer asks for their name they must give their name.”
The community workshops were held Friday, July 29 at Casa Valencia in Woodlake and Saturday, July 30 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lindsay. Baez said Woodlake residents watched a 30 minute video on an immigration raid in Madera prior to listening to a presentation on their rights. Lindsay residents did not watch the video but did get the same workshops on rights conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“They need to know what to do and say when talking to an officer,” Baez said. “They also need to know what is required of them.”
Baez said Proyecto Campesino has held similar workshops in Visalia and Tulare, but is now trying to reach out to the smaller, more rural communities where many farmworkers live.
He said they were only able to do two workshops now, but in the next few years hope to hold workshops in smaller communities, such as Tooleville near Exeter and Tonyville near Lindsay.
For more than 50 years, Proyecto Campesino (AFSC’s Farm Labor Program) has supported farmworkers throughout the San Joaquin Valley in their quest for humane working conditions, safer housing, affordable health care, and recognition due them as working members of society.
Proyecto Campesino works to defend the rights of immigrant workers and their families, countering negative public perceptions with accurate information. Proyecto Campesino is located at 141 E. Front St. in Farmersville.
For more information, call 733-4844 or send e-mail to Farmersville@afsc.org.