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NEW BEDFORD — Police Chief Paul Oliveira became a celebrity for the Latino community at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on a recent Sunday morning. Amid the presentation of two Spanish-speaking officers, Oliveira was applauded when he declared that he agrees that undocumented immigrants should have access to driver's licenses.

The occasion was a meeting coordinated by Helena DaSilva Hughes from the Immigrant Assistance Center and the church administrator, the Rev. Germán Correa of Colombia. After being invited during Sunday Mass, a hundred faithful went down to the church’s basement, where there is a large event center with tables, chairs and the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Oliveira, accompanied by two Spanish-speaking officers, Lt. Cándido Trinidad and Nicole Rodrigues Ríos, were waiting for them.

After serving pizzas to the attendees, Oliveira took the floor and, accompanied by a member of the parish choir who acted as an interpreter, spoke to the crowd: “It is important that you trust us because we are here to protect you,” the chief said.

Moments later, when he was asked by a parishioner if he was in favor of the new law allowing immigrants without legal status to apply for and receive driver’s license, his answer drew a standing ovation.

“Yes, I support it,” he said to the applause.

“Don't be afraid to call 911,” he finally advised them.

New Bedford Light correspondent Gerardo Beltran Salinas is a Chilean broadcast and multimedia journalist currently living in the New Bedford Area. In NoticiasNB, he covers stories of interest to the region’s Spanish-speaking residents.