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|Lawyers will meet with Brazilians||Wednesday, June 25, 2008|
|Liz Mineo 508-626-3825||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- When faced with law enforcement officers, many immigrants don't know they have the same rights as any American citizen.
To help immigrants learn what rights they have when they encounter local and state police or immigration officers, two Boston attorneys are coming to Framingham today.
Attorneys Anjali Waikar of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Elizabeth Badger of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute will speak. Portuguese translation will be available.
It's necessary to clear some misinformation and dispel rumors within the immigrant community, said Waikar.
'Unfortunately, a lot of immigrants don't know they have rights," she said. "People who may be undocumented may feel they're not protected, but the U.S. Constitution protects all people regardless of their immigration status."
For example, immigrants can remain silent and call a lawyer before answering questions, reads an ACLU booklet titled "Know Your Rights," on which the talk will be based. Or if they're stopped while driving, they must show their driver's license, registration and proof of insurance, but they are not obligated to answer questions.
The event is sponsored by the Brazilian American Association and will be held today at 6 p.m. at the Framingham Civic League, 214 Concord St.
The speakers will also cover some aspects of the 287(g) program, an agreement between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Framingham Police Department which trained two local officers to enforce immigration laws. The program created some concerns among immigrants who feared it could turn local police into an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Framingham Police Department is the only local police department in the state to take part in the program. The other Massachusetts participants are the Department of Corrections and the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office.
A Framingham Police representative will be there to answer questions about the program, said Charlene Cabral, director of the Brazilian American Association.
Cabral hopes the event will open the door to more meetings but she acknowledges some financial problems.
"There is a need to have the organization around," she said. "We have some money issues, but we're still plugging away."
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