Fire that killed three spotlights ‘unique vulnerabilities’ facing Baltimore immigrants

Stack of newspapers with Mark Parker campaign Logo and text "Media Coverage"

[Excerpted from The Baltimore Sun]


Left to right: Mark Parker, pastor of Breath of God Lutheran Church, Lucia Islas, an immigrants’ advocate, Susana Barrios, a volunteer with Latino Racial Justice, are coordinating efforts to help the family who lost 3 members in a fatal fire this week on the 3400 block of East Lombard Street in their neighborhood. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Staff)

Mark Parker, pastor of the nearby Breath of God Lutheran Church, said immigrant families have “unique vulnerabilities” when they encounter a crisis, in part because they lack established social networks and knowledge of available resources. Parker, who is also a City Council candidate for the District 1 seat, has been collecting donations for the families through his church.

“There’s the vulnerability of the quality of the housing that you can afford, based on being new to a country and a place and the opportunities that are available to you, there’s the vulnerability that comes with language access,” Parker said.

Those conditions means strong collaboration between those responding in a crisis is vital, he said. The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs is among the groups coordinating help for families.

Barrios and Lucia Islas, president of Comité de Latino Baltimore, said more robust language resources are needed to help residents who don’t speak English in emergencies.

“We’re not enough to help everybody with language access,” Barrios said. “When it’s a response situation, having someone interpreting over the phone is not enough.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown and the family has not said how they believe the blaze began.

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