Law Enforcement And Church Assuage Immigrant Fears

Sep 29, 2017

A Reno church held a forum this week in partnership with local law enforcement and community organizations to cover topics for immigrants and refugees. KUNR reporter Natalie Van Hoozer has the story. 

All the seats in Ministerio Palabra de Vida were full, with more than 100 community members. For Pastor Cesar Minera, the location for the forum played a big role in the attendance.

“Creemos que la gente confía en las iglesias,” dijo él. “Tal vez ya no hay muchos lugares en donde se pueda confiar, y queremos que la gente se sienta cómoda. Hemos hecho eventos en otros lugares y la asistencia no ha sido exactamente la misma. Entonces pensamos movamos a una iglesia y veamos si hay un cambio en asistencia.”

(“We believe that people trust churches,” he said. “Maybe there aren’t that many other places that are trustworthy and we want people to feel comfortable. We’ve had events in other places and the attendance hasn’t been the same, so we decided to move this one to a church to see if there is a change.”)

Pastor César Minera of Ministerio Palabra de Vida Church.
Credit Stephanie Serrano

Veronika is a member of Pastor Minera’s church and has lived in Reno for 14 years. She came to get information for her daughter, who’s graduating from Wooster High School with honors. In March, her daughter applied for DACA status but hasn’t heard back, which is worrisome.  

“Yo tengo fe en dios yo soy cristiana pero igual uno tiene que informarse verdad porque a fínale de cuentas tienes que informarte bien legalmente que es que es lo que va pasar,” dice ella. “Que no se deje del pánico de lo que ponen en Facebook en el internet lo que la vecina diga porque se toma como chisme.

(“I have faith in god, I am Christian, but at the same time you have to inform yourself right, because in the end you realize you need to inform yourself well about what the law is and what will happen,” she said. “You can’t give into the panic about the things people write on Facebook or the internet or what your neighbor says because all of that ends up being gossip.”) 

Reno-area law enforcement hear from the undocumented community that people are concerned about getting detained and deported at routine traffic stops.

Commander Oliver Miller wants to set things straight.

“We need our community to have an understanding of what it is our role is. We are guardians of our community,” he said. “Essentially, we’re there to help them. If we can get that trust going, with the community, they are more likely to call us if they are in need. So, we don’t care about status in terms of immigration, at all. That’s not our role.”   

Commander Oliver Miller of the Reno Police Department.
Credit Stephanie Serrano

Other topics discussed were how undocumented people can report crimes and get driving permits. 

This story was produced by Natalie Van Hoozer and Stephanie Serrano, seniors at the Reynolds School of Journalism. They report for Noticiero Móvil, a Spanish-English multimedia news outlet for northern Nevada.