Immigrants ‘Speak Out’ at Flushing Library

The 2016 Immigration Resource Fair was a little different this year with a speak out for residents to express concerns following the election.
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The annual Immigration Resource Fair at the Flushing Library was a little different this year, with a Speak Out session for those worried about the new administration coming to the White House on Inauguration Day. Borough President Melinda Katz hosted the session, which turned into an open mic for leaders from immigrant organizations throughout Queens to discuss the issues facing the people they serve.

The Immigration Resource Fair is organized by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Katz to give immigrants the assistance they need, such as legal advice and filing citizenship paperwork. This year the phrase on Katz’s lips was “Queens has your back.”

“Although this is an annual, long-planned event, this year’s seems to have become even more timely in light of recent events and the current climate,” Katz said. “In addition to a free, on-site legal clinic, as well as direct, one stop access to over 30 organizations and agencies, we’ve incorporated a public Speak Out session, a space for people to share their candid thoughts.”

Naheed Bahram from the Women for Afghan Women said many recent immigrants in her program voted for the first time on Nov. 8 and were deeply disheartened by the results. Many of the Muslim women have reported to Bahram fear of leaving the house wearing their hijab.

Her program educates women on the U.S. Constitution and American democracy. But classroom attendance has dwindled since the election, according to Bahram.

“We have lost some of our students, who have stopped coming to our classes just because of their appearance,” Bahram said. “Ninety-nine percent of the women coming to use our services are Muslims wearing hijabs.”

She pointed out that at the after-school program last week, “one of the mothers called and said, ‘I’m sorry I’m not able to come pick up my son. Can I send assign my neighbor to come pick up my children?”

This parent is known to Bahram as a mother who regularly picks up her children herself. After the election, however, her husband, concerned for her safety, said she should not leave the house.

Jesus Huerta came from Mexico as a child and did not know he was undocumented until several of his family members were deported. Now a student at Hunter College, Huerta said he would like to keep the education system to stay open to undocumented immigrants so they can have the same opportunities in the United States as everybody else.

According to Stephanie Mulcock from Cidadao Global, there was an influx of immigrants from Brazil over the summer because of political unrest. Now Brazilian immigrants are facing even more uncertainty.

Children are also facing bullying in schools, according to Rokeya Akhter, founder of the New American Women’s Forum.

“The fear that we feel right now is indescriba­ble,” Akhter said. “I don’t how to describe how I feel when I hear my nephew asking me how we’re going to survive here when we’re at school and they’re telling us to go back to our country. This is my country.”

Katz remarked that the common word used during the Speak Out session was “uncertainty.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Posted 12:00 am, November 24, 2016
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Reader feedback

deshawn from Queens says:
Hey Hallum: Open up a dictionary and try to locate the words "legal" and "illegal"--you'll be surprised at what you might find. And yeah if I were an illegal invader busting into someone's country without permission I'd be "worried" too. We should all take whatever we want from your own home since you apparently don't have a problem with that principle involving legalities. Two-faced hypocrite you are.
Nov. 24, 2016, 6:39 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
And I am "speaking out" against the Times Ledger rag and pandering elected officials who need to know the BIG DIFFERENCE between Immigrants and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

If one came to this country LEGALLY, then one does not have to worry.

STOP lumping Immigrants and ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS together. Boy talk about your liberal racism.
Nov. 24, 2016, 11:22 am
Zell says:
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Nov. 24, 2016, 8:49 pm
Citizen from USA says:
What about the immigrants that arrived 60-70 years ago? They faced hardships,every form of paperwork was in English.You had to learn the language or do without!!! All we do now is cater to the non-english. If it is so terrible here,no one is keeping you. Elected officials love to have their name in the news!
Nov. 25, 2016, 10:42 am
Tom from Queens says:
What about the immigrants that arrived 400 years ago? They had to cheat and deceive the indigenous people into trusting them and then when the native peoples finally began to trust them, they slaughtered them.
Nov. 25, 2016, 12:53 pm
Speak & read English from Qns says:
Tom must be a new arrival. They did the same in every country to those with less smarts!
Nov. 26, 2016, 1:51 pm

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