On September 5, 2017, Donald Trump announced that he was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Obama-era program provides temporary relief from deportation for an estimated 800,000 young immigrants. These immigrants have gone to our schools; they live and work in our communities; they have children who are American citizens; and now they’re at an even greater risk of deportation. Dreamers are Americans, and Congress must act immediately to protect them.
When Donald Trump created this crisis back in September 2017, he asked Congress to fix his mess by coming up with a permanent solution for Dreamers. What he never expected is that Congress actually would manage to find a compromise—but it did. Led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Senate reached a deal that would both provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and meet all of the White House’s requirements on border security.
How did Trump respond? He rejected the deal out of hand because it didn’t do enough to advance his nativist agenda. Specifically, the deal didn’t do enough to keep black and brown immigrants from “shithole countries” from coming to the U.S.
The truth is that Trump’s anti-immigrant and xenophobic agenda goes beyond his attacks against Dreamers. He has created a mass deportation force that is tearing our families and communities apart.
The Trump Administration is terrorizing immigrant communities. Raids on immigrant families are escalating. Mothers who have been here for over a decade have been ripped from the arms of their children. Immigrants with lawful status have been unlawfully detained. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has targeted parents picking their children up from school and even waited outside of courts to track down domestic abuse victims seeking protection. Because of fear of being detained or deported, immigrants are avoiding going to the doctor when they get sick, parents are pulling their kids out of school, and others are hiding deeper in the shadows.
This is what the Trump agenda represents. And this is why we all have to do what we can to defend our communities — citizens and noncitizens alike.
An Attack on Immigrants Is an Attack on All
Indivisible’s core mission is to resist Donald Trump’s racist, sexist, and xenophobic agenda through local, grassroots congressional advocacy. And the cornerstone of his agenda is the anti-immigrant, xenophobic positions that he championed during his campaign, and that he’s put into practice in his first year in office. As a candidate, Trump focused his energy on demonizing immigrants. Since taking office, he’s dedicated himself to terrorizing immigrant communities. From anti-immigrant executive orders and the elimination of DACA, to efforts to fund his border wall and expand his deportation force, immigrants are perhaps the most vulnerable members of our society under Trump.
We can only defeat Donald Trump’s agenda if we all stick together—if we treat an attack on one as an attack on all. It is for this reason that Indivisible is standing with our immigrant rights partners to protect immigrants and their families.
Join the fight locally. Indivisible National encourages all local Indivisible groups to connect with their local immigrant rights organizations to join the fight to defend Dreamers and other immigrants being targeted by this Administration. The immigrant rights community has been working on defending immigrants and their families for years, and they are best able to help provide you with recommendations on how you can be most useful in protecting your communities. Below are two national immigrant rights organizations with local chapters that are worth checking out.
HOW TO CONNECT WITH A LOCAL IMMIGRANT RIGHTS GROUP
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) is the largest coalition of grassroots immigrant rights organizations, with over 40 organizations in over 30 states. Since its founding in 2000, FIRM has been a leader in fighting for immigrant rights on the local, state, and federal level. You can find a local group using the FIRM Directory.
United We Dream (UWD) is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country, with dozens of chapters and affiliates across the country. You can find a local chapter by visiting: https://unitedwedream.org/groups/. UWD members are also planning future activities and events inside and outside of DC. You can sign up for one here.
How You Can Be an Immigrant Ally Locally
Supporting actions on the local level, in addition to continuing to push your Members of Congress to pass a clean Dream Act and reject Trump’s immigration priorities, is a critical way to help protect immigrant families. Below are a few recommendations. But remember: if your group is interested in pursuing any of these activities in your city or town, the first step is to reach out to local immigrant rights organizations to learn about existing campaigns, and to find out how you can support ongoing efforts.
PROMOTE SANCTUARY POLICIES
In response to federal enforcement actions, local governments are resisting pressure to participate in the federal government’s mass deportation program by enacting policies to protect their immigrant communities. Jurisdictions with policies like these have come to be known as “sanctuary cities.” Traditionally, a sanctuary policy is one that limits the extent to which police will help federal immigration authorities deport people. But increasingly, communities are thinking more broadly about the concept of sanctuary, and pushing their local elected officials to not only stop police from collaborating with ICE, but to make a wide range of changes to improve the lives of people in immigrant communities and promote racial justice more broadly.
A few examples of local sanctuary policies include:
- A prohibition against holding any person in custody solely due to a request by ICE
- A prohibition against local police sharing a person’s release date with ICE
- A prohibition against inquiring into or gathering information about an individual’s immigration status
- A prohibition against joint operations between ICE and local law enforcement agencies
- A prohibition against allowing ICE access to jail facilities, or to persons in local custody, for the purpose of investigating violations of federal immigration law
- A prohibiting against deputizing of police to act as ICE agents, and terminating any existing 287(g) agreements between the local jurisdiction and ICE
The Center for Popular Democracy has created a comprehensive toolkit that discusses each of these policies in detail, and goes step-by-step through the process of crafting a strong sanctuary ordinance or resolution. It is available here.
Local Progress, a national network of progressive local elected officials that is uniting elected officials working on sanctuary policies, can provide support to your elected officials and connect them to peers advancing similar policies in other cities.
GOING WITH IMMIGRANTS TO ICE CHECK-INS
Many undocumented immigrants have regular check-ins with immigration officers. What’s important to remember is that there are several reasons why a person might have these and you should never assume that it’s because they’ve done something wrong. It could be that a person was released from an immigration detention center while their case is pending, and one of the conditions of release is periodic check-ins. Many immigrants with these mandatory check-ins are afraid that, under Trump, complying with these check-ins might lead to their deportation.
Increasingly, immigrant allies are going with immigrants to check-ins with ICE officers. This helps by providing immigrants with moral support, but it also allows allies to monitor interactions with immigration officials to ensure there aren’t any violations of an immigrant’s rights. Keep in mind that the rules at these offices vary, and there may be restrictions on who can enter.
People have been taken into ICE custody at their check-ins and detained until they are deported. If this happens, it can be difficult for them to notify their family and friends, or to gather clothes, a suitcase, important documents, and to find legal assistance quickly. Without people to monitor them, ICE will be even more likely to operate without transparency or accountability. Check with your local immigrant rights organization if you’re interested in going with a person to an ICE check-in.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE ACCOMPANYING PERSON(S)?
The most important part is being physically present to show ICE that the person checking in has community support. It does not include engaging with immigration officers or staff, unless the person that you are accompanying asks you to do so. You should feel free to take notes about the encounter with immigration officers.
Another way to help a person going to an ICE check-in is to work with them to develop a “rapid response plan” to use in case the person is detained by immigration. The plan should include:
- Contact information for a family member, loved one, or friend
- (If applicable) A community organization that should be notified
- Contact information for an attorney or legal organization
- Where to find their important documents such as passport, children’s birth certificates, prescriptions, etc.
- The person’s full name, date of birth, country of origin, and alien registration number (“A” number). That way you or their loved ones can find out where they are by using this ICE detainee locator website—https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do
- If the person wants, a plan to bring additional Indivisible members to the check in. Some people might prefer to have just one person to go with them while others might want a larger group to accompany them. Ask them what they prefer.
GET “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” TRAINING
No matter who is president, everyone living in the U.S. has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. Undocumented immigrants have these rights, too. Since the elections, many people have been attending Know Your Rights workshops, or have been trained to provide Know Your Rights presentations. Understanding what a person’s rights are, regardless of their immigration status, can help protect them from being deported or detained. As an informed ally, you can help by watching for ICE abuses or by helping to train others.
To learn more about these rights, see the following resources:
- National Immigration Law Center (NILC): Know Your Rights (multiple languages)
- Immigrant Defense Project: Know Your Rights (additional languages)
Additionally, you may have family, friends or coworkers who could be affected, and should share this information with them:
- Carry a know-your-rights card and show it if an immigration officer stops you. The card explains that you will remain silent and that you wish to speak with an attorney. The card can be found here—https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rights-card.png.
- Create safety plans. Encourage people who are at risk of deportation to create emergency and safety plans. This family preparedness packet is a good starting place—https://www.ilrc.org/family-preparedness-plan (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese).
- Practice solidarity! During raids, ICE will question everyone in the vicinity and there’s power in numbers and immigrant allies can help by standing with immigrants getting approached by ICE and remaining silent and refusing to answer questions until an attorney is present. Practice doing so with family, friends, or Indivisible members.
- Report and document raids and arrests. If it is possible and safe for you to do so, take photos and videos of the raid or arrest. Also take notes on what happened. Call United We Dream’s hotline to report a raid: 1-844-363-1423. There may also be a local raids hotline in your area that you can call. You can send text messages to 877877.