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Lawyers head to Boston high school to give students a Know Your Rights day

The Boston International Newcomers Academy is a high school for immigrant and refugee students.
Boston International High School Newcomers Academy
Boston International High School Newcomers Academy. Photo: Google Maps

About two dozen lawyers will visit immigrant and refugee students at a Boston high school on Friday for a “Know Your Rights” day.

The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project began offering Know Your Rights presentations to the Massachusetts community following the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

On Friday, 500 students at the Boston International High School Newcomers Academy will learn about their rights thanks to the PAIR Project. Their presentation will be a bit different from the norm, said Courtney Snegroff, PAIR Project’s community outreach manager, because PAIR wants to ensure that the group sizes are small enough so that the process is more effective.

“We’re dividing up the students based on language and background into different classrooms so we don’t have more than 20 or so kids in a room,” she said. “That school is a very unique school in that every single student that goes there is an immigrant or refugee. Some arrived two weeks ago, some have been in the U.S. for a few years, but none of the students were born in the U.S.”

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The need for these presentations has only grown as President Donald Trump has been in office, Snegroff said.

“Close to 10,000 people have been in the audience of a Know Your Rights presentation over the last four and a half months,” according to PAIR’s count, she said.

The organization has trained nearly 300 attorneys on how to give the presentation, which includes information on one’s rights under the Constitution, the executive orders enacted by Trump, what a warrant looks like and how to prepare in case you or your family are arrested due to your immigration status.

The high school students will also get handouts Friday providing them with community resources, nonprofits and legal services they or their parents can contact if they have further questions or need counseling.

It may be a heavy topic for high school kids, but Snegroff said that the it’s all “very real.” PAIR even works with partner organizations that focus solely on helping defend immigrant children under 18, like the nonprofit Kids in Need of Defense. The students can also pass along information to their parents.
    
"We are grateful for PAIR in helping us enhance lessons and discussion around diversity and democracy," said Tony King, the school’s headmaster, in a statement. "It is important for our students to receive accurate information about issues in our nation that may have a direct impact on their lives." 

 
 
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