Support needed

Dear Friends of UIDN,

In early March, a fire broke out in a rented home in Kingston. It left two asylum-seeking families homeless. One of the children, Eduardo, is a second-grader in a local public school where children from diverse backgrounds are taught to respect each other and build a caring community.

Sad and worried in the wake of the fire, he told his teacher, and she invited him to share his story with his classmates. They were shocked to learn that their friend and his family had lost their home and household goods, that there had been some injuries, and that Eduardo had no idea when or whether his life would return to normal.

The children showered Eduardo with expressions of sympathy, offers to share their own possessions, and an outpouring of letters telling him that they loved him and wished him well. Meanwhile, UIDN mobilized to bring the families emergency support.

For the next few days, the families were helped to temporary quarters and given household items to replace those lost in the fire. The house was repaired so that it could be re-occupied, and financial assistance enabled Eduardo’s family to get back home.

A week later, Eduardo raised his hand at his class’s morning meeting and asked if he could tell how his family was managing. Again, the students were empathic, repeating offers of material help. Mostly, they were relieved to know that Eduardo would be all right and that adults in their community had risen to the challenges that surpassed their own seven-year old capabilities.

Building a caring community

When we first formed Ulster Immigrant Defense Network (UIDN), we were not always sure just what would need to be done. Two years on, we are still learning – stretching to understand and meet the needs that present themselves. During this time, UIDN has helped families grapple with challenges from ICE and a hostile national administration.

We have provided transportation to ICE check-ins and hearings, worked with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson to successfully advocate for municipal IDs, and advocated with the Worker Justice Center of New York for driver’s licenses for immigrants – a state policy withdrawn after 9/11. We also work with local school districts, religious congregations, and the Ulster Literacy Association.

It was only natural that UIDN’s Family and Household Support Team was there in the wake of the house fire to help the families get back on their feet, just as Eduardo’s classmates helped him. Thanks to the financial support UIDN receives from our supporters, we were able to help, and Eduardo was able to show his classmates that they live in a caring community.

UIDN hopes this is a lesson the students can count on in the coming years.

The Ulster Immigrant Defense Fund operates as a 501(c)(3) public charity under the auspices of Holy Cross/ Santa Cruz Episcopal Church. Contributions are tax deductible. Online donations can be made here.

Checks may be mailed to Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church 30 Pine Grove Avenue Kingston, NY 12401, payable to Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church; please note UIDN on the memo line.

Thank you in advance for your generosity,

Father Frank and UIDN’s Coordinating Committee

Day of Action/Día de acción, May 21, Albany

Join #GreenLightNY in a final push to win #DriversLicensesNOW before the 2019 legislative session ends. Register here and stay tuned for details about the day’s activities. The political climate is changing rapidly, so Green Light NY asks for flexibility on the nature of the action and their capacity to provide transportation. Buses will leave at different times depending on pickup location. Buses will leave Albany no later than 3 p.m.

Únese #LuzVerdeNY en impulso final para #LicenciasAHORA antes de la conclusión de la sesión legislativa. Inscríbase aquí y permanezca atento a mas detalles sobre de actividades. El clima política se esta cambiando rápidamente así que LuzVerdeNY por ser flexible en cuanto los detalles y  capacidad para proveer el transporte. Cada bus saldrá a diferentes horas de diferentes puntos. Los buses saldrán de Albany a las 3 p.m.

Download, print, and share the flyer below.

Salute new court rules, keep working for legislation

Earlier this month, immigrants and advocates celebrated when the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) adopted rules prohibiting ICE from arresting individuals in state courthouses without a judicial warrant or judicial order.

Before the change, ICE often entered courthouses with administrative warrants or no warrants at all. NY is the first state to take this important action.

While the new rule makes a huge improvement inside courts, ICE agents can still wait outside to try to pick up immigrants as they enter or leave. That is why the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and other advocates are urging the NY state legislature to pass the Protect Our Courts Act.

Why legislation is still needed

Protect Our Courts would keep ICE out of areas surrounding courthouses, making it more difficult to prey on immigrant families interacting with the legal system. The law would prevent ICE from using court appearances by defendants, witnesses, and others as an opportunity to detain undocumented immigrants.

Current ICE practice undermines the justice system by discouraging our undocumented neighbors from appearing in court. Examples of people who may be discouraged from attending court if they know ICE is unchecked are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes and tenants or workers whose rights have been violated.

Assembly member Kevin Cahill is a cosponsor of the Protect Our Courts Act. The legislation is out of committee in the Assembly. The State Senate version has been in the rules committee without action for nearly a year.

The IDP has created a two-page description of the proposed law and how it would work with an additional page of talking points and two pages of case studies. Download as a PDF. (The image above is the first page of this document.) You can also download IDP’s three-page media release regarding the rule change; get the PDF.

Outside New York

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, a judge and a former court officer were indicted last week for helping to prevent an ICE arrest. The New York Times called it “a dramatic turn in the long-running clash between the Trump administration and state governments that have resisted its hard-line approach to immigration.” Read more.


Benefit concert, March 31

Sunday, March 31, 2-5 p.m.

Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church
30 Pine Grove Ave., Kingston

The program features pieces by Johannes Brahms: Serenade No. 2 in A Major and Liebeslieder Waltzes, Opus 39a.

Pianists Adelaide Robertson and Matthew Odell and narrator Marie Duane will accompany mezzo soprano Teresa Buchholz, baritone Robert Osborne, tenor Chuck Sokolowski, and soprano Libby Sokolowski.

Suggested donation: $10.

Painting above: The Emigrants, circa 1910, Antonio Rocco (1880-1944)

Below, the artists, clockwise from top left: Matthew Odell, Adelaide Robertson, Marie Duane, Teresa Buchholz, Robert Osborne, and Libby Sokolowski. Not pictured: Chuck Sokolowski.

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UIDN’s statement on the massacre in New Zealand

In the wake of the horrific massacre of Muslims at prayer in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network expresses heartfelt condolences to the survivors and solidarity with our local Muslim community. Addressing injustice, discrimination, and hateful rhetoric suffered by immigrants is the focus of our efforts. Many in the Christchurch Muslim community were and are immigrants, as are many Muslim community members here. Like most immigrants, they have left their homelands in search of safety and a better life for their children. They deserve welcome and respect. We stand with all immigrants.


Mon., March 11, call Congressman Delgado

Take Action

Please call District 19’s Congressman Antonio Delgado, 202-225-5614. Let him know we support ALL members of our community and reject any targeting of immigrants.

This call-in is backed by UIDN, Woodstock Immigrant Support, and the groups whose logos are shown here. Click on the logos to visit each group’s website.


On February 27, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed legislation requiring background checks on ALL firearm sales in the country. Currently, only licensed gun dealers must perform background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a firearm. The measure passed 240-190 and has been sent to the Senate.

In an effort to derail or water down the vote, Republicans introduced several amendments. Unfortunately our District 19 representative, Antonio Delgado, voted for one of the most pernicious of these requiring gun sellers to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an “illegal immigrant” attempts to buy a firearm. The motion targeted more people for deportation and pandered to bigotry and xenophobia.

Given that ICE regularly targets, entraps, and lures undocumented immigrants into custody, Congressman Delgado’s vote is disturbing. It also suggests a lack of understanding of immigration issues important to many of the constituents who supported him.

In addition, any push to deport undocumented immigrants threatens farm workers and the Hudson Valley’s agricultural economic infrastructure.

What to say

Please call Rep. Antonio Delgado’s Washington office (202-225-5614) on Monday, March 11. Here is a sample script:

My name is _____, and I live in (your city, town, or county). I am one of thousands in District 19 who support immigrant rights. I am (disappointed, angry, etc.) at Rep. Delgado’s Feb. 27 vote on the Republican Motion to Recommit, which targeted immigrants. I know the congressman wants to support our most vulnerable community members.

I want to know that Rep. Delgado will stand up for immigrants, and not contribute to their demonization. Here are some ways he can demonstrate his support. Can you tell me whether he is willing to take any of these  steps? (Pause after each item and then ask whether you can count on support.)

  1. Co-sponsor H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, to protect Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status. (Scheduled to be introduced tomorrow, March 12.)
  2. Co-sponsor the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019, H.R. 641. (Introduced in January.)
  3. Hold the Dept. of Homeland Security accountable for immigration abuses.
  4. Cut funding for immigration enforcement.

(If the person you speak with can’t or won’t commit to one or more of these items. Try asking questions like these.) What additional information do you need about these initiatives? Whom in your office might we contact with more details? When and where is Rep. Delgado’s next town hall meeting near my community?

Thank you.

You can support New Paltz’s Luis Martinez

(Luis, photographed in 2017, by Franco Vogt for Chronogram.)

Luis Martinez, a longtime member of the New Paltz community, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on January 16, and is being held at the Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen.

Luis’s friends and family will gather for support at La Charla, 127 Main St., New Paltz, Sunday, February 10, 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Keep reading to learn more about Luis or skip down for ways to help.

In 2001 Luis founded a construction firm, Lalo Group. Over the years, the company has employed between 10 and 50 people, depending on workload, and is currently under contract to build a hotel and condo complex in New Paltz. Luis also financed his mother’s restaurant, La Charla, now run by his wife.

Luis Martinez came to the U.S. from Mexico at age three after the death of his father. His mother received amnesty and subsequently citizenship. Luis did not realize that his mother’s amnesty did not cover him until he tried to cross the border alone at age 18. He was detained and deported. His wife says he later reentered the U.S. legally.

How is he a threat to our community?

Many find Luis Martinez’s detention incomprehensible. New Paltz Town Board member Daniel Torres told HV1, “Unfortunately, yet again we are seeing an example of our broken immigration system.” This detention, he added, “serves no one” and sidelines a community member who “employs dozens” at two businesses.

How to help

Sign the petition created by Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson. It reads in part, “Like so many undocumented immigrants, Luis has tried over and over again to “lawfully” gain citizenship. Three years ago, he started an application for a U visa — granted to victims of certain crimes who cooperate with police. …. His pending U visa did not stop ICE agents from detaining him….”

Call or write Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Antonio Delgado, Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senator Jen Metzger, and State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. Call Ulster County legislator Tracy Bartels, 845-255-0804. Use the information above, the HV1 article by Terrance Ward, or details from this 2017 interview with Luis that appeared in Chronogram.

Websites for reaching officials mentioned above: