In response to growing concerns about immigration under President Donald Trump's administration, an immigration law forum will be held Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. in the Carolina Union auditorium.
Carolina Student Legal Services Inc., Justice Initiatives Inc. and the Town of Chapel Hill are co-sponsoring the open forum, called Immigration Law and the New Administration.
The forum will discuss changes in immigration policy, local law enforcement’s policies and procedures, immigrants' rights and resources where community members can find support.
Fran Muse, director and staff attorney of Carolina Student Legal Services, began planning this event months ago. She said a similar, smaller event was held in November, but with the recent administration change, there has been a piqued interest in immigration policy.
“After the election, there was an interest in immigration law across the country, especially with some campuses becoming sanctuary campuses,” Muse said. “We started this because it is important for the UNC student body to educate themselves on legal issues that impact their daily lives.”
There will be many expert speakers attending the event, including immigration attorneys, the dean of students and law enforcement officers.
“We are not immigration attorneys; it is a very specialized area," Muse said. "So we are having local attorneys present to address different topics about immigration law, as well as a panel of local law enforcement."
Richard Sin, an immigration attorney at The Law Office of Matthew Charles Suczynski, will be one of the speakers at the event.
“The new administration is causing a lot of concern and raising a lot of questions regarding immigration issues," Sin said. "The reality is, we are a nation of immigrants. The recent executive orders of President Trump are a threat to the foundation of America and our values."
Sin said he and his colleagues are looking forward to working with various groups to help preserve their rights.
Muse said a Daily Tar Heel article discussing the lack of legal resources on campus was a motivation for her office to plan the open forum. When she started planning the forum, she realized this issue didn’t just affect UNC students, but the community as a whole.
“Basically we want to talk about what we know with no speculation, and the policies that are already in place,” Muse said.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said they were invited to this forum months ago, but didn’t know how timely this event would actually be.
“We think it is very important for law enforcement to take any opportunity available to remind the community that we are here to protect everyone,” Blue said.
Blue said local law enforcement focuses on community and relationship building. He hopes people will come to the forum Wednesday night to ask questions and engage with their community.
“When you have questions about what your local officials are doing about issues, especially when there are larger national events occurring, you should ask questions, you should reach out and not miss an opportunity to learn and be engaged,” Blue said.
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