Several meetings around town organized by Hispanic leaders have attempted to dispel rumors about the law in the Latino community. One such meeting took place at St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic, where Perez practices.
“Most of the concerns were about people’s rights,” said Carlos Calderin of Calderin and Oliva, a law firm specializing in immigration rights, which directed the meeting of around three dozen Latinos. “One of the biggest concerns was what happens to a U.S. citizen who is driving around and has people in the car — and that it somehow comes out that those people are undocumented. And so, one of the things we tried to explain was that ... if you’re just giving someone a ride that’s undocumented and the person gets arrested (for giving them a ride) — that just doesn’t happen. We tried to explain the fact that there needs to be an independent crime being committed, and too, that the driver must have known and intended to transport illegal aliens. And so we talked about the fact that you may suspect that somebody is undocumented but sometimes we don’t know if they are or not — like a car pool. You have to have known they didn’t have papers.”
Calderin said another concern is whether police will be out in force arresting people during roadblocks, or just walking around and asking people for legal status papers.
“That’s a typical concern that people have that was clarified,” he said.
Parker believes traffic stops are conducted in “a fair way.”
“Road checks are conducted on a city-wide basis, we try to cover all areas of the city so we can ensure we’ll be as fair as we possibly can,” he said. “Now, let’s just say somebody lives in a neighborhood. Do they only drive in that neighborhood? No, they drive all over town because the resources — the stores and so forth — are spread throughout (the city). So I think you’d have difficulty in saying there is a Hispanic neighborhood anymore or a Hispanic ‘location’ anymore. It’s no more than you could say there’s a Caucasian-only section of town because people have assimilated, they’ve bought property ... and people live everywhere.”