Irvington High School hosts ‘Know Your Rights’ Immigration Forum


Tanisha Singh

(From left to right) Priya Murthy, Magan Ray, Michael Chase, Zahra Billoo, and Kalpana Peddhibotla introduce themselves at the start of the forum

Tanisha Singh, News Editor

On Saturday Mar. 11, Irvington PTSA collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) League of Women, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the South Asian Bar Association to increase immigration awareness and invite members of the Bay Area community to  the ‘Know Your Rights’ immigration forum at the Irvington cafeteria. The forum consisted of a four-person panel which discussed the topics of immigration rights, hate speech, travel restrictions, and potential solutions, and held a Q&A session for the around 70 attendees present.

The panel included CAIR civil rights attorney and plaintiff in a US district court case on the Muslim Ban Zahra Billoo, ACLU representative Michael Chase, and Services Immigration Rights and Education Network (SIREN) representatives Priya Murthy and Magan Ray.

Murthy began the panel’s presentation by informing the attendees about the four immigration executive orders. She briefly reviewed what each order entailed, then went on to discuss how they specifically applied to the audience.

Billoo continued the presentation by discussing her experiences with President Trump’s executive orders and hate crime as well as briefing the crowd on the Muslim Ban case.

“The current political atmosphere has given people a reason to unleash such hate and it is important for us to talk about what you can do to address such issues,” said Billoo. She later discussed how important it is to report such incidents in order for immediate action to be taken.

Chase and Ray ended off the panel’s discussion by talking about travel restrictions and how to work with the police on issues regarding travel at the airport. This segment sparked great interest in the audience, with several questions asked during the Q+A session on the topic of civil rights for immigrants on borders during the final hour of the event.

Indian American immigration attorney Kalpana Peddibhotla, who took part in leading the event, told newspaper India West that Indian American citizens make up a majority of the Bay Area and it is important to support them. Former Fremont Vice Mayor Susan Chan, also present at the forum, echoed Peddibhotla’s claims.

“This forum was definitely necessary for community members to understand what their rights are and whether or not they are being violated,” said Chan. “We are fortunate to have over 20 community organizations around bay area working together on such causes.”