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A forum on immigration drew more than 100 to the First Parish Church United on Feb. 28.
Panelists included Amy R. Anthony, staff attorney at Northeast Justice Center, Cheryl Hamilton, Lowell site director and director of partner engagement at International Institute of New England, Bopha Malone, child refugee from Cambodia, and a board member at Lowell Community Teamwork Inc., Rosa Payes, a member of the executive council of the Merrimack Valley Project, and Liza Ryan, director of organizing at Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. The discussion was moderated by former Westford Town Moderator Ellen Harde. [Continue below].
“We’re saying no to good people…and that to me is unacceptable…(Illegal immigration) is a civil offense. It’s not a criminal offense and we need to make sure we’re clear about that. There is a big difference between doing something like killing a person and trying to better your life” Rosa Payes
“…anxious, frustrated and fearful, because that’s how it’s been in our office for many of our clients for the last year. Since the election and mostly since the original travel ban,” she said. Hamilton’s International Institute is charged with creating opportunities for immigrants and refugees to succeed. Cheryl Hamilton
“Immigration is inherently political in most countries, but also here. And so sometimes when we’re afraid of people or afraid of a county we say you can’t come here.” Liza Ryan
The event was organized by Action for Social Justice Committee of the First Parish Church United in Westford and sponsored by the Westford League of Women Voters and Indivisible Westford.