BIC wishes to extend a HUGE thank you and a WAY TO GO to the Williamstown Police Department for posting this in December 2016! Way to prioritize public safety and keep our county safe AND welcoming!
FR: Police Chief Kyle J. Johnson
TO: Town Manager Jason Hoch
RE: Community Relations Statement
DT: December 07, 2016
We join other Municipal Police Departments within the Commonwealth, as well as our State Police, in making a statement on community relations.
We want the community we serve to know that the Williamstown Police Department will continue to be committed to building and maintaining positive relationships within the community. We will always serve everyone in our community and we have zero tolerance for bullying or harassment. To further this commitment, it should be known that the Williamstown Police Department does not investigate civil immigration laws, as this role falls to the federal government. All of those within our boundaries should be completely confident that we are here to assist them in any crisis situation.
Municipal police exist to ensure public safety and security, and the Town of Williamstown has worked hard to ensure that there are strong, positive relationships among all groups in this community. We will continue in this manner moving forward.
Kyle J. Johnson
Chief of Police
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
¡CONOZCA SUS DERECHOS!
What?: Immigration Workshop
¿Qúe?: Taller de Inmigración
When/¿Cúando?: Thursday, January 12 at 5:30pm
Jueves, 12 de enero a las 5:30pm
Where/Dónde?: Berkshire Community College
1350 West St., PITTSFIELD
Koussevitzky Arts Center, K-111
Who: Berkshires’ Immigrants who want to understand more about their rights now and under a new President
¿Para Quiénes?: Inmigrantes de los Berkshires que quieren aprender más acerca de sus derechos actuales y debajo de un nuevo presidente
Questions/¿Preguntas? Contact/Contacte: LitNet @ 413-243-0471
In Partnership With:
The office will be closed the week of December 26th and we will not be checking phone messages or emails during that time. The office will reopen on Monday January 2nd, 2017. Happy, safe, and peaceful holidays to all. We look forward to serving you again in 2017!
Cierre de vacaciones
La oficina estará cerrada la semana del 26 de diciembre y no estaremos revisando mensajes telefónicos o correos electrónicos durante ese tiempo. La oficina reabrirá el lunes 2 de enero de 2017. Felices fiestas, paz y seguridad para todos. Esperamos poder servirle otra vez en 2017!
Oath: Rockwell Museum naturalization ceremony welcomes 17 new Americans
STOCKBRIDGE — They came from over 10 countries and four continents, but on Saturday morning 17 people became American citizens together at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
“I’m so happy to be a citizen of this country,” said Sandra Soasti of Pittsfield, one of the new American citizens.
Soasti is originally from Peru. She has lived in Pittsfield for the past 10 years. Her family looked on with happiness and pride as she took the oath in front of the iconic Four Freedoms paintings in the museum’s exhibition hall.
The naturalization ceremony at the museum is in its fifth year. The event is marked by presentation of colors by the Dalton American Legion Post 155 Color Guard and was overseen this year by the Honorable Joan McMenemy, first justice of Juvenile Court.
Also in attendance to give remarks were Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt; Luis Chaves, field office director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and Ellen Kennedy, president of Berkshire Community College. Present but not speaking were state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer.
Chaves, himself an immigrant from Portugal, said the event is the high point of his year.
“This is the best part of my job,” he said. “Portugal gave me a country but America gave me a life.”
After remarks from Moffat and Kennedy, Judge McMenemy administered the Oath of Allegiance to the assembled applicants. The hall erupted with applause as the 17 new citizens beamed with pride.
The Berkshire Immigrant Center’s Director Hillary Greene delivered closing remarks after the ceremony. The center helps applicants in the naturalization process, including screening for eligibility, application support, disability and fee waivers, legal assistance, transportation, advocacy with USCIS, and English language, history and civics classes.
Greene told the crowd that watching immigrants become new citizens is a moment of joy for everyone.
“Your achievement,” she said, addressing the new American citizens, “reaffirms my own pride of citizenship.”
After the ceremony’s completion, the new citizens greeted supporters in the hall, taking pictures with Judge McMenemey and their families. The happiness in the room was palpable.
Mohammed Zafer of Pittsfield couldn’t stop smiling as he held his naturalization certificate. Zafer moved to the US from Pakistan in 2010, and to the Berkshires in 2013.
“It’s so good to be a citizen,’ he said. “It feels so good.”
Original Article on BerkshireEagle.com
To the editor:
Criminals, rapists, job-stealers! Those are favorite words clamored in the media at election time. Insulting words! This country was built by immigrants who grew it from shore to shore. So let us set the record straight.
We at the Berkshire Immigrant Center, and you too, know them well. They are your friends, neighbors and co-workers and work hard in a variety of ways, often doing the jobs Americans won’t: clean houses, hotel and hospital rooms and tend lawns. Some own their own businesses or care for the disabled and elderly. Or they teach students at universities, are doctors, perform music in our orchestras, or contribute to research in our laboratories.
They work at learning English, value their children’s education and are eager to become naturalized citizens. Fifty one percent of them are. They bring cultural diversity to our communities, and their children sit at school with your children, becoming friends and peers.
The Berkshire Immigrant Center in Pittsfield serves about 800 immigrants from over 70 countries a year. They often become entrepreneurs, and one only needs to see the number of ethnic restaurants in the county to see that they are productive citizens who provide — not steal — jobs.
Contrary to a common myth, they pay taxes and bring billions to Social Security through automatic deductions. Immigrant students contribute $18.8 billion to our state economy and are sought after by research institutions. Indeed, immigrants complement rather than compete with our workers.
“Small and big businesses across the country wonder where they are going to find the workers they need to stay competitive. The reality is that America faces a skill gap in many areas of our labor forces,” according to The American Immigration Lawyers Association. A wall is not the answer to this problem!
On Sept. 10, a naturalization swearing-in ceremony took place at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and we witnessed the joy of these new citizens. They attain this culminating phase of legal status with the help of the Berkshire Immigrant Center, which “offers comprehensive services to ensure and promote civic engagement, facilitate cultural integration and assist in navigating the complex U.S. Immigration system.”
Immigrants are part of what makes America great, Mr. Trump. It was true when your family came and it is today.
For more information on how you can help support the Berkshire Immigrant Center and our local immigrants, please visit berkshireic.com.
Isabelle Kaplan, Pittsfield The writer is a board member of The Berkshire Immigrant Center.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule expanding the existing provisional waiver process to allow certain individuals who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and who are statutorily eligible for immigrant visas, to more easily navigate the immigration process. The provisional waiver process promotes family unity by reducing the time that eligible individuals are separated from their family members while they complete immigration processing abroad, while also improving administrative efficiency.
This final rule builds on a process established in 2013 to support family unity. Under that process, certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can apply for provisional waivers of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility, based on the extreme hardship their U.S. citizen spouses or parents would suffer if the waiver were not granted. The rule announced today, which goes into effect onAug. 29, 2016, expands eligibility for the provisional waiver process to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. USCIS expects to update its Policy Manual to provide guidance on how USCIS makes “extreme hardship” determinations in the coming weeks.
Until now, only immediate relatives of U.S. citizens were eligible to seek such provisional waivers before departing the United States for the processing of their immigrant visas. Those eligible for the provisional waiver process under the 2013 rule are only a subset of those eligible for the waiver under the statute. This regulation expands eligibility for the process to all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver.
To qualify for a provisional waiver, applicants must establish that their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouses or parents would experience “extreme hardship” if the applicants are not allowed to return to the United States.
The final rule also makes changes to Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. These changes will go into effect along with the final rule. The updated form will be posted on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/i-601a on August 29, 2016.
Applicants should not submit a request for a provisional waiver under the expanded guidelines until the final rule takes effect on Aug. 29, 2016. If you do so before that date, USCIS may deny the application.
Please note that BIC is CLOSED Monday July 18-Monday July 25
We will be checking messages and returning calls as much as possible that week but the office will not be open. Thanks so much for your understanding and we look forward to helping you again July 25th!!
Por favor tome en cuenta que BIC estará CERRADO desde lunes 18 hasta el lunes 25 de julio, estaremos chequeando mensajes y trataremos de devolver las llamadas durante la semana pero lo oficina no estará abierta Muchas gracias por su comprensión y esperamos ayudarles otra vez empezando 7/25!
On June 23, 2016 Supreme Court ruled against DAPA/expanded DACA, the 2 initiatives announced by President Obama to provide deportation relief and work permits to an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants.
We are outraged and deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court ruled against the President’s executive orders and in support of a lawsuit that stands out for being politically partisan and deeply anti-immigrant. The fact remains, DAPA and expanded DACA are commonsense initiatives that are consistent with decades of actions taken by presidents of both parties. They are what is best for America.
To learn more about how to best protect your loved ones after this setback please visit: http://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/campaigns/sign-national-community-call-dapa-daca/
While today’s misguided outcome is deeply disappointing, the Berkshire Immigrant Center and our welcoming community will continue to fight until every member of our community can live in dignity, without fear of being separated from their families. Now more than ever we must the hold anti-immigrant politicians responsible for this attack against families accountable.
Immigrants, their families and allies will remember in November who stood with us and who was against us. Our voices will be heard through our votes. This battle is far from over and we are counting on you to stay in the fight with us.
Hilary, Brooke, Elisa, Rosalia, and JenniferDiasappointment as The supreme court ties on Daca/Dapa
With the announcement Jan 19 that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear U.S. v. Texas, BIC joins millions of immigrants in celebrating the possibility that they might soon have the chance to work or attend school without daily fear of deportation.
The case is a challenge by 26 states to the November 2014 presidential orders that would expand access to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and create a similar program for the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
“We’re excited and pleased that the Supreme Court will examine the merits of these executive actions,” said Hilary Greene, executive director of BIC. “This should be taken as a sign of hope for the estimated 5 million people who stand to benefit from the opportunities presented by DAPA and the expansion of DACA.”
224 organizations filed joint briefs urging the Supreme Court to take U.S. v. Texas. The “amicus” or friend-of-the-court briefs argued that the sweeping injunction of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Texas to block the programs directly harms millions of people who have been in the United States since childhood or whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents.They also noted that the families eligible for DACA and DAPA already contribute to U.S. society and the programs will make them more secure, with access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives.
The case will be added to the court’s calendar for oral argument in March or April, with a ruling likely before the end of the court’s term in late June.
While the outcome of the case is pending, we recommend that clients who might qualify receive a screening from the BIC or other qualified legal immigration practitioner. BIC recognizes the need for permanent changes to the United States immigration system and calls upon Congress to enact compassionate, comprehensive reforms to strengthen our families, our communities, and our country.