District Attorney Marian Ryan leads victim and witness services awareness training for immigrant tutors
Posted by boston.com March 21, 2014 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney:
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan led a training for tutors at The Immigrant Learning Center in Malden to raise awareness about the legal rights afforded to victims and witnesses of crime and the resources available to assist them.
“People who are new to this country may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and do not need to tolerate behavior here—intimate partner violence or harsh treatment of children— that may have been more culturally accepted in their native countries,” District Attorney Ryan said. “We must be diligent in our efforts to reach and engage immigrant communities and ensure that people understand they have rights and protections if they are a victim of, or a witness to, a crime and there are resources available to assist them.”
“We are so pleased to have partnered with the Immigrant Learning Center, Homeland Security Investigations and The Victim Rights Law Center to bring this important message to the tutors who work closely with immigrants every day. These tutors develop close relationships with their clients by assisting with language learning and other important needs that arise. They may be in the best position to encourage a client to contact the police or the District Attorney’s Office and can provide a crucial bridge linking their clients to resources and the trained advocates who can help.”
“It was an honor for The Immigrant Learning Center to participate in such an important project,” said Diane Portnoy, President and CEO of The Immigrant Learning Center. “Although we teach English to immigrant and refugee adults, our students often struggle with many other barriers to becoming successful workers, parents and community members. The information our teachers gained at this event gave them the knowledge to help our students overcome some of these challenges. It also meant a great deal to me personally to hear District Attorney Ryan speak with such understanding and insight about the immigrant experience.”
Participating in the training program were Peter Di Marzio, Victim Assistance Coordinator for Homeland Security Investigations, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) criminal investigations, and Attorney Maria Muti of The Victim Rights Law Center. Also in attendance were Diane Portnoy, President and CEO of the Immigrant Learning Center, Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis, Representative Paul Brodeur, Mayor Gary Christenson and the Office of Representative Denise Provost. Over 25 tutors and staff took part in the training.
This program marked the launch of District Attorney Ryan’s RIGHTs Project (Reaching Immigrants/Gaining Trust), which will offer training across Middlesex County to other immigrant education programs as well as refugee assistance centers.
Middlesex County is the most populous county in Massachusetts and one of the largest counties in the country with 54 cities and towns in urban, suburban, and rural areas, comprising over one quarter of the population of Massachusetts.
There are 1.5 million residents in the county and, of those, nearly 20% were born outside of the United States. Half of the ten most populated immigrant communities in the state are located within Middlesex County in Cambridge, Somerville, Lowell, Framingham and Malden.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has offices throughout the county, including in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Newton, Somerville, Waltham and Woburn. Through a contract with AT&T, the District Attorney’s Office has a 24-hour language line which is available to assist in communicating with victims. Additionally, the office has created a county-wide Law Enforcement Language Directory for use by police departments for mutual aid and assistance in accessing interpretive services for victims and witnesses who speak native languages other than English.