For three hours tonight, Baltimore-based immigration law experts will teach attorneys, health care providers, teachers and others how they can assist undocumented immigrants facing an increased threat of deportation under the Trump administration.
“Connect for Immigrants,” happening at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law from 4 to 7 p.m. this evening, will corral a range of working professionals in one room and aim to give them the necessary tools they would need to assist undocumented immigrants in Maryland.
The evening will begin with an “Immigrants Rights 101” session to review current immigration law, led by professor Elizabeth Keyes of the University of Baltimore School of Law, followed by networking time for nonprofits, advocacy groups, attorneys and others. The final hour will include breakout discussions on:
- Immigration law enforcement, moderated by Gabriela Kahrl of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s Post Conviction Defenders Division;
- How to help immigrant victims of crime and human trafficking, moderated by private attorney J. Lance Conklin;
- and immigrant health and welfare, moderated by attorney Paul Chandler.
Maureen Sweeney, a UMD Law professor and director of the school’s Immigration Law Clinic, is one of five individuals or groups sponsoring the event. In an interview, Sweeney said that twice a month, her clinic’s students hold consultations for people facing deportation. Those consultations have already doubled since January, Sweeney said.
“There’s a lot of anxiety in the community and a lot of need for information,” she said. “The level of rhetoric has been pretty heated. It’s reasonable that people would be pretty afraid.”
President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 21, pledging to deport millions of immigrants from the country. In late February, his administration instructed federal immigration agents authority to deport anyone living in the United States illegally who is suspected of committing any crime, traffic offenses included, and arrest any undocumented immigrant they encounter.
In Baltimore, residents have held protests after federal agents deported multiple immigrants from the city, including one man from Highlandtown. Maryland has an estimated 250,000 immigrants unauthorized to live here.
Unlike in criminal proceedings, immigrants aren’t guaranteed a lawyer, Sweeney notes. “There’s no public defender for immigration purposes,” she says.
Tonight’s event is free and open to the public, but requires registration online. The law school is expecting more than 200 people to attend, according to a release.
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is located at 500 W. Baltimore Street. The event runs from 4-7 p.m.