Among the audience were: Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera;
former Lorain police officer and Lorain County Sheriff’s Captain
Rich Reséndez; Lorain City Council President Joel
Arredondo; author and teacher Hilaire Tavenner; CEO
and President of the Lorain County Urban League George
Lambert; also, college students, parents and at least one
former defense attorney.
But there was one notable absence.
No immigrants attended the forum and the speech was intended
for them. Rendón said he was disappointed that the turnout
did not include immigrants, those who would benefit the most
from his practical advice.
Rendón: U.S. was founded on immigration, immigration reform
As an immigration law attorney today, Rendón said he “fights
for” and defends immigrants with their legal issues. But he once
found himself on the other side of the coin: he worked as a
border patrol agent in El Paso, Texas, enforcing the U.S.
immigration laws for several years.
Rendón, son of a Mexican father and Irish mother, grew up in a
predominately Latino San Antonio, Texas but said Spanish was
barely spoken in their home.
He completed a tour of duty with the U.S. Army, received his
B.A. in legal studies and Juris Doctorate, and retired after a
28-year career with the federal government where he served as a
special agent and assistant officer.
Rendón said he believes in the need for immigration laws and for
protecting the U.S. borders, but said he also believes in
compassion and that the country was founded on immigration.
He added the U.S. immigration system has flaws that allow
“unreasonable situations,” and said he hopes the country will
undergo immigration reform that “will allow families to
Rendón said he is offended when an immigrant, who may have
entered the country with or without documentation, marries into
a bona fide or true relationship with a U.S. citizen, has
U.S. citizen children, and yet is still deported and barred
from re-entering the country for long periods of time.
“What I’m fighting for, is for the most part, hard working
people, who have simply come here to work to better themselves
and their families, and in the process they better the United
States,” Rendón said.
a native of Uruguay, is a Spanish language court interpreter
certified by the U.S. Courts, and a lawyer with more than 15
years experience in criminal law, worker’s compensation, family
law, and immigration law. He was a legal intern for the
Community Health Advocacy Law Clinic at the Cleveland Marshall
College of Law.
Rendón and DeCola said the U.S. Constitution’s 4th, 5th,
and 14th Amendments, as well as other legal cases, grant rights
and due process to both citizens and immigrants.
The 4th amendment protects the individual from unreasonable
searches and seizures. It also requires the officer to have a
warrant and reasonable suspicion or grounds in order to stop or
make an arrest.
Rendón said “looking illegal or looking Hispanic” is not enough
suspicion for a police or border patrol agent to detain an
And any officer violating those individual’s rights will face
consequences in court, like having the evidence collected be
thrown out in court and case be dismissed.
Yet Rendón and DeCola said many immigrants do not know about
these rights. They provided practical advice:
Never consent to a search without a warrant. An individual may
decline to a search of his or her person, vehicle or house, if
the officer does not have a warrant, though there are some
exceptions to that rule. One exception where an officer does
not need a warrant: if the individual consents to a search.
The individual has the right to remain silent. You may refuse to
answer questions in a respectful way. Confessing to anything can
be used in court. Plus, do not argue with police.
An immigrant has the right to ask to speak with a lawyer. Never
agree to be removed or deported without first speaking to a
lawyer. Rendón added not just anyone but a lawyer who knows
Rendón explained that often when immigrants are arrested, they
agree to be deported and perhaps sign deportation documents
because they believe they will be sent back to their country of
origin immediately. But deportation does not happen right away.
Instead, the individual may be held in jail for months before
being deported and prevented from re-entering the country.
DeCola said a lawyer instead may help to prevent the
deportation, or have the immigrant to sign for a voluntary
departure which will allow the immigrant to continue the
immigration process even after being deported.
During an automobile search, only the driver is required to
speak; the passengers have the right to politely decline to
Do not run from police. Police could use that as probable
suspicion for further interrogation or arrest.
Carry a business or identification card. Never carry fake
An individual may ask if he or she is under arrest, why he or
she is being stopped or arrested, and may ask if he or she is
free to leave.
An individual can walk away from police unless police show force
by ordering to stop, by pulling a weapon, or physical contact.
Tavenner said she also hopes the country will undergo
“Too many beautiful people are being ripped from their
families,” Tavenner said “I’m all for people coming here. But
the law is so convoluted. They should come here legally and
honestly but we need to make the law easier for that to happen,”
Editor’s Note: Contact information— Michael J. Rendón at
3100 E. 45th Street, Suite 316, Cleveland, or call (216)
202-0069, or (216) 394-0661 or at
http://www.rendon-decola.com. Contact Alvaro DeCola
at (330) 598-1466.
See this story in Spanish in next week's edition of La Prensa.
Vea este artículo de La Prensa en español la próxima semana.