Dozens of professionals spent much of Monday listening and learning about immigrants' plight under executive orders recently issued by the current presidential administration.
The goal was to begin a dialog that would bring legal minds and social works together with immigrant communities who are living in fear or unaware of their rights.
The discussion was hosted by the St. Louis University school of Law and was held in conjunction with St. Francis Community Services and Southside Center.
During the presentations, community members either directly affected or have family members who are spoke about their situations and what can be done to assist with them.
Amanda Tello is an American citizen born of undocumented immigrants. Her husband has qualified for DACA status.
The couple takes particular care when when they leave their home. They pick where they go and how they get there to minimize interaction with authorities in an attempt to avoid getting tangled up with recent aggressive deportation efforts.
Tello said when they travel there are parts of St. Louis County they are more alert in.
Tello said the constant stress of living always being alert takes a toll on people, but it is also something she said she has learned to live with.
She said it gets to a point where people forget there is a life they could be leading free of the fear.
It is fear that is truly pushing undocumented immigrants to change their lifestyles, keeping some of them home when they would normally go out to the store.
We talked to another immigrant under the agreement we would shoot the video in silhouette and maintain her anonymity.
She said she fears what will happen to her 4-year-old, American-born son if she were to be picked up and deported.
She came to the U.S. as a child, brought over the border by her father against her wishes.
Today, she doesn’t know what she would do if she was deported back to Mexico, where her family owns no land, home or prospects.
She would be homeless and is scared of what would become of her son if she is allowed to take him with her.
Tello said there have been workshops for people like this mother held since November.
The workshops are attracting overflow crowds, desperate to learn what they can do to protect their family, property, and finances.
Tello said the best thing Americans can do to help is to first understand the situation.
Then, she said, join with Latino groups to find out how you can support them, don’t ask them to join you as a representation of a group in need.