Puente offering community defense course

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(Source: puenteaz.org) (Source: puenteaz.org)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The flurry of recent immigration enforcement activity has left many people confused. So in an effort to help people understand what exactly is going on, Puente is offering a three-day "community defense course."

"We know that a lot of our community members are misinformed and we want them to know exactly, to be educated of what can happen and what they can do," said Puente organizer Natally Cruz.

Tuesday marked the first class in the three-part series.

Cruz said the first class would focus on the current immigration enforcement activity and the new administration's deportation priorities to help people understand what is happening.

"Every week we've been going out to different areas in the community, giving out these courses," Cruz said.

The course usually takes six weeks but Puente says there's been an increase in demand so they've condensed it and they're offering it more frequently.

Day two of the course focuses on informing people of their rights.

"All they have to say if they're pulled over, all they need to say is their name and date of birth and they don't have to answer any other questions if they don't have an attorney present," said Cruz.

The third day is spent discussing plans and preparations that should be made in advance in the case of detention or deportation.

One of the biggest things Cruz says is making sure children are looked after saying it's important to determine "who is going to stay with their children in case they are detained, who is going to take care of them while they're in that process."

At Tuesday night's class, our camera was not allowed to stay because there were people in attendance who did not want to be identified as well as those who did not want to be misidentified just based on their presence.

Cruz says these classes are for everyone and that they've had legal residents, even U.S. citizens show up just to seek out clarification or understanding about what's happening right now.

"Once they're educated and they know the rights that they have, they are a little bit more comfortable and they're ready to fight whatever process they're going to be facing," Cruz said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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