Immigrants receive support, advice at event

Father Carlos Conde, right, participated in a gathering April 3, Divine Mercy Sunday, to support immigrants living in a trailer park in South Louisville. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)
Father Carlos Conde, right, participated in a gathering April 3, Divine Mercy Sunday, to support immigrants living in a trailer park in South Louisville. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

Representatives of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD), immigration attorneys, priests and lay people from local churches met with residents of a South Louisville trailer park April 3 to help allay their fears.

Residents of Holiday Park on Minors Lane say immigration officers have conducted multiple raids at their homes recently — looking for undocumented immigrants — in the early morning hours.

“Six times in the last four weeks,” said Victor Cano, who lives and works at Holiday Park and attends St. Bartholomew Church. “A lot of people are feeling scared. I would like someone to help this community.”

About 75 residents gathered to hear from the police officers and others who offered advice and support. The gathering was coordinated by La Casita Center and its director Karina Barillas.

Karina Barillas, right, of La Casita Center, and Yolanda Moore of St. Rita Church, spoke during a gathering to support immigrants in South Louisville on April 3. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)
Karina Barillas, right, of La Casita Center, and Yolanda Moore of St. Rita Church, spoke during a gathering to support immigrants in South Louisville on April 3. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

As dozens of children played on a nearby playground, Major Curtis Flaherty, commander of the Seventh Division of the LMPD, told residents that he and other LMPD officers aren’t interested in the legal status of immigrants.

“We do not enforce immigration laws,” he said, explaining that these laws are a federal matter. “If someone is trying to hurt you, call us. We want to encourage you to report crime whenever you see it. We don’t want you to be afraid to call the police.”

Major Flaherty was accompanied by two Latino officers who spoke to the crowd in Spanish. One resident asked the officers what to do if someone threatens them, especially, they asked, if someone with legal status threatens to call the police and have them deported.

“Call us,” Major Flaherty said. “We’re here to help people.”

The residents also heard from immigration attorney Rachel Mendoza-Newton, who spoke in Spanish about how to interact with law enforcement.

She advised residents to be honest with officials, adding, “If you lie, they will find out.”

Newton, whose message was translated into English by Felix Garza, said that if immigration officers carry out indiscriminate raids at the trailer park, “Start recording. You all have cellular phones with cameras. Then we can identify the officials and show what they are doing.”

She encouraged residents to organize themselves and form a neighborhood watch. And she encouraged them to be prepared in case a parent is taken into custody.

“Everyone needs to be prepared,” she said. “Do you have a plan for your children? If you are undocumented, you need to have a power of attorney to take care of them.”

She also advised residents to get recommendations of good attorneys and not simply hire the cheapest one.

Father Carlos Conde, a priest from the Diocese of León, Mexico, serving at St. Bartholomew and St. Edward churches, attended the meeting and offered support to the residents.

Afterward, he said that he has heard from his parishioners about the troubles they face. (His words were interpreted into English by Maria Scharfenberger, who serves in Hispanic ministry at St. Bartholomew.)

“They are people who have confronted death, they have overcome it in order to come to this country looking for a better way,” he said. “In general, they do not come to rob, they come to work to give a better future to their children.

“They tell me, you don’t know what it’s like to live in fear everyday; to not know if your family will be separated today by deportation.”

Father Conde also asked rhetorically, “Why can commercial goods flow through the border, and drugs and arms? What is more dangerous, people or arms?”

Quoting Pope Francis, he added, “Put the human person over the market. The person should be the priority, after that everything else.”

Marnie McAllister
Written By
Marnie McAllister
More from Marnie McAllister
Catholic Charities intends to purchase new headquarters rather than build
Catholic Charities of Louisville has set aside plans to build a new...
Read More
0 replies on “Immigrants receive support, advice at event”