Immigration raids spark work on city emergency plan

Federal raids in December targeting undocumented workers in Minnesota and across the country have sparked serious concerns in the area’s Latino community. Hundreds gathered in Worthington over the weekend to show support for families affected there. WCCO-TV has a complete list of stories related to the raids and their impact.

But the issue of emergency planning reaches beyond immigrant famlies. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed how easy it is to lose important documents, bank accounts, cash, and most importantly, family members, in a crisis.

Now a group of Northfield leaders are working on plans that will help them — and everyone — deal with emergencies they hope they never encounter. Last Friday more than a dozen people, from the superintendent of schools and police chief to representatives of social agencies and churches met to take the first steps in creating a community emergency plan.

While the discussion touched on the entire community, the meeting was called by Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin (shown above), a local resident. He told the group he wants to work on economic development issues, but he says the first step is to help people deal with their immediate needs in a crisis. You can view or download a PDF of his biography here.

He has slated a community meeting this Friday, Jan. 12, at 6 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Church to continue the discussion. All the participants in Friday’s discussion conceded they walked a delicate path in making plans to helping local children and families without becoming involved in federal immigration issues.

They stressed that Northfield most likely would be affected if there were raids at employers in Lakeville or other surrounding communities, without discussing any employers by name.

Police Chief Gary Smith said his goal is to create a community emergency plan, which is required under federal Homeland Security Authority regulations. Superintendent Chris Richardson said his concern is that children are safe, have food and clothing and someone to care for them if parents aren't available.

Marj Evans-de-Carpio, city staff liaison to the Human Rights Commission, said the issues range from giving someone power of attorney to handle financial matters and property here to making sure children who are born in the United States have documents to prove their dual citizenship should they have to travel out of the country.

Official estimates indicate that Latinos make up 5.7 percent of the city's population, or about 1,000 people. There is no official estimate of the percentage of those residents who are legal residents.

Northfield.org photo

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