Speaker emphasizes the importance of immigrants’ rights during event


Blynn Beltran

Saad Sweilem talked about the procedures to follow when encountering law enforcement. The workshop took place on Feb. 27.

The Dream Center partnered with the Council on American Islamic Relations to host a “Know Your Rights” workshop on Feb. 27.

Civil Rights Attorney and Keynote Speaker Saad Sweilem spoke about CAIR and how to handle encounters with law enforcement to a small diverse group of students who, whether they knew it or not, were all immigrants.

“I think it’s important to understand that this is a country of immigrants,” said Sweilem. “Unless you are Native American, you are an immigrant.”

Amongst the group was Alma Aguilar, a representative of Folsom Lake College Outreach for Undocumented Students, who attended in hopes of starting a Dream Center like the one at CRC.

“19 percent of our community is Latino, so we are trying to cater to those 19 percent,” said Aguilar.  

Sweilem touched on the different tactics that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, will use to prey on immigrants that may not know what their rights are.

“It’s pretty common that ICE agents show up with their own warrant instead of one signed by a judge,” said Sweilem. “Most of the communities they target aren’t knowledgeable about their rights. They don’t really understand the difference. They’re able to use that to get people to think they have to let them in their homes.”

Most of the communities they target aren’t knowledgeable about their rights. They don’t really understand the difference.

After being detained by ICE, Zahriya said it is commonplace for immigrants to be held in correctional centers or even county jails for long periods of time.

“People are being held in jail for years, sometimes indefinitely for an immigration hearing or deportations,” said Mahmoud Zahriya, who was a former Cosumnes River College student and current Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for CAIR Sacramento.  

With the combined efforts of Zahriya and CAIR, a multi-million dollar contract between Sacramento County and ICE hat allowed detainees to be held at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center was canceled, according to Capitol Public Radio.

With the continued efforts of CAIR, the The Sacramento Family Unit, Education and Legal Coalition, and even students, the persecution of immigrants and the attack on their rights can be mitigated.

Sweilem said he wants everyone, especially DREAMers, to feel safe.

“Know your rights, be aware of the different protections you have and speak with an immigration attorney,” said Sweilem. “There is a lot you can talk about for free. Understand there is hope.”