Social Issues

Jorge Islas-Martinez on delays, difficulties migrants face

Whitewater resident and immigrant advocate Jorge Islas-Martinez describes long waits that migrants experience in the immigration system and challenges they encounter when they do not speak English.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

February 7, 2024 • Southeast Region

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Jorge Islas-Martinez:
What I would like to share that we need to understand that if we don't have a legal status here in the United States, we need to understand the legal process. It takes years, and this legal process is very complex, that sometimes even the attorneys, immigration attorneys, it's very hard to understand it. And for us, it's worse.

Sometimes we do not understand why they're asking all those questions and why all this process. But for example, recently I help a family to get their next appointment with immigration because they just arrived to our city and their next appointment is gonna be until 2030. We are in 2024. And now, this family have has to wait six years to see immigration once again. What are you going to do during those six years? So what I do here too, I try to explain them what the process is. I'm part of our organizations, you know, that allows me to learn, so I can help others. And that's what I do.

You know, I try, I like to help others because sometime those are the most vulnerable people that allow people take advantage of them. And I know how it feels to be in this country, not knowing the language. It is hard because when you don't know the language, it's like you are muted. It's like you don't have your arms. It is hard to communicate with others and more when people take advantage of you. And I know that because when I didn't know how to speak English, I injured my eyes working for this company. And I was placed, I was told I had to go back to work. I was gonna be in light duty and I did not do anything, but I was placed in a dark room for eight hours. I was not even allowed to go to use the restroom or take my lunch or anything. But this company placed me in a dark room for eight hours. That's injustice. And I could not defend myself.

And the reason I like to help others is because I have been in those shoes. And I don't want, and I don't like people taking advantage of others. I think we have to learn how to help each other. I think we have to learn that we are humans, we're immigrants, but we have feelings. So all of us, we have to be treated in the same way. I'm not asking to be treated better or worse. I'm asking to be treated in the same way, like every single person is treated. So please don't use offensive words. Please learn, ask questions. If you do not know why we don't have documents in this country, ask me why. I will give you the right answer.

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