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Immigrants Win Revisions to U Visa Application Policy, Sheriff and Police Chief Commit to No Collaboration with ICE

Leaders listen as Forsyth County Sheriff promises not to work with ICE and Winston Salem Police Chief commits to U Visa reforms.
In Forsyth County, 400 immigrants won a commitment from the Chief of Police who agreed to extend the review window for U Visa applications from two to four years after a crime against an immigrant has occurred. The newly elected Sheriff promised not to collaborate with ICE in the separation of families.

BUILD Wins Commitment from Baltimore’s Mayor to Recognize Parish IDs Issued to Immigrants

Father Bruce Lewandowski, Priest at Sacred Heart and other clergy speaking about the importance of the new parish ID cards
On June 6, Mayor Pugh promised to instruct city agencies, including law enforcement, to recognize a parish identification card. In October, she and Archbishop William E. Lori joined BUILD leaders at member Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church to announce the launch of parish identification cards that will be recognized by city agencies. These parish-issued identification cards, issued by Catholic congregations with the full support of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will be a form of non-government identification available to members of the congregations. The identification card will be recognized by Baltimore City law enforcement and other city agencies as an alternative form of identification in specified situations. Mayor Pugh committed to training police officers on the Parish ID within two weeks.  
In the climate of violence that has plagued Baltimore over the last three years, immigrants have often hesitated to contact police to report crimes, fearing that police might involve federal agents which could lead to deportation of family or friends.  Immigrants worked with BUILD and Sacred Heart to design the cards and spoke about the trust that would begin to be restored between the immigrant communities and the Baltimore Police Department. Father Bruce Lewandowski of Sacred Heart stated, "This is just one step toward making Baltimore a city of neighbors and not strangers.” 
Press coverage: 

AIM Action Wins Commitments for Flower Branch Explosion Survivors

Survivors share their stories following the tragic gas explosion that killed seven apartment building residents.
After a deadly gas explosion at an apartment building nearly two years ago that killed 7, including two small children, AIM organized an immensely successful action demanding outcomes and gaining further respect for the most marginalized in Montgomery County, MD. Gaining significant press coverage of the action, survivors of the tragedy, most of whom are undocumented immigrants, identified affordable mental health, rental assistance, and inclusion in the County’s evaluation of the response to the fire as three key issues for four County Councilmembers to respond. All four councilmembers agreed to the demands in front of 236 AIM leaders, and committed to coming back in three months to share the progress that had been made.
Stories from Survivors:
Brother Chris Posch, lead Pastor of St. Camillus Catholic Church, opened the night explaining that AIM leaders had listened to over 50 survivors. “In those stories,” he shared, “we heard a lot of pain. Pain of losing family members; The pain of dealing with physical injuries or PTSD, and no longer able to provide for their families. And the pain of wanting a voice to ensure better outcomes if another tragedy like this occurs, but finding that you have none.”
Ms. Victoria, surrounded by family and friends, recounted surviving the horror of the night only to face the challenges of surviving with physical injuries that have prohibited her from working and the ability to provide for her family.
Mr. Gustavo Zuniga described that when the floor collapsed beneath him, he and his wife fell and he passed out. It was his wife who pulled him out of the rubble and the fire. He explained that the psychological impacts of the trauma have made it difficult for many members to continue working as they did before the explosion, thus putting them at risk of becoming, once again, homeless, because they cannot earn the salary necessary to pay rent each month.
An audit of the County’s response was commissioned six months after the explosion, said Mr. Edy, another survivor of the explosion. Quietly, he asked, “Do you know how many surviving families were interviewed?” To a silent room, he answered, “Not one of us.”
Additional Press Coverage:

WIN Organizes for Immigrant Legal Services, Affordable Housing

WIN Leaders launched new Ward 1 demands around affordable housing and immigration to six candidates for Ward 1 councilmember.| Photo by David Choy 

VOICE Protects Immigrant Community, Wins New Regulations for Students Celebrating Muslim and Jewish Holidays

At a 535-person action held in Fairfax County and a 275-person action in Prince William County, VOICE won commitments from both jurisdictions that County Police will not act as agents of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Public school systems in both counties also committed to honoring Jewish and Muslim holidays by issuing new regulations that student absences related to the celebration of religious holidays will not affect attendance records. There will also be no tests or major school events scheduled during those holidays.