Witness, Accompany, and Advocate During ICE Raids
This is a personal post. Yesterday, I, Eva, participated in the first post-election event that made me feel potentially useful — beyond marching, phoning, or attending a meeting. I am sharing in case you want to look for similar opportunities. The event was a 2-hour training to be a witness to ICE immigration raids.
Community groups in Santa Clara County, California, are setting up a rapid response network that will have its soft launch this week: a hotline for undocumented immigrants, and their family and friends, to call if ICE shows up at the door. A dispatcher will answer the phone, guide the caller through his/her rights, and text a network of citizen-witnesses who will come to the site of the raid to document it.
Here’s how my event was advertised:
Come learn how you can be a rapid responder so that we can respond to calls from community members concerned about immediate ICE actions throughout Santa Clara County.
The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time. We will support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. We will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants.
Please invite others to attend to help us build the Rapid Response Network we will launch very soon with many partners and volunteers, like you!
I’ve now been trained to be a citizen-witness, with basic knowledge of how to comply with ICE directives while recording the encounter on my phone and documenting the unfolding events. How many agents? What did they say? From which agencies did they come? Badge numbers. Vehicle license plates. And more.
The attorney who helped train us recommends US citizens serve as witnesses because we’re at lower legal risk than immigrants. It’s also something white people can usefully do, with more possible roles if you speak Spanish (I don’t).
I was trained through an event organized by PACT-San José. If you live in Santa Clara County, you can go to their events calendar to sign up for a training. In the event of a raid within 2-5 miles of your address, you’ll receive a text asking if you can come document it. Even if it takes you a while to arrive, it’s helpful. We learned that raids in the Bay Area have been 3 to 6 hours long.
I’m told San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties have similar networks. I did some online searching and found the San Francisco Rapid Response Network and another in Brooklyn, NY. The PICO website appears to be a place to hunt for more area networks (I started on their press release page).
Here’s a high-level update from the Washington Post about possible arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants by ICE, and the ways districts are trying to manage the uncertainty. The takeaway: many districts are trying to reassure students and parents, but they’re quite limited in what they can do.
On the number of students and parents who may be affected:
Millions of U.S. children face growing uncertainty at home because of shifts in immigration policy. The Pew Research Center estimates 3.9 million schoolchildren had an unauthorized immigrant parent in 2014 — or 7.3 percent of all schoolchildren. About 725,000 of those children were unauthorized immigrants themselves.
On whether arrests can happen at schools:
Historically, ICE agents have avoided schools. A 2011 memo says they are barred from arresting or interviewing people at schools, churches, hospitals and other “sensitive locations,” unless there is an imminent threat or they seek approval. Carissa Cuttrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the Department of Homeland Security “is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.” [Read the ICE memo that describes the agency’s “sensitive locations” policy]
Some actions districts have organized:
Many school officials say they want to allay the fears of families. They have hosted educational and legal seminars for immigrants, and in some cases assigned staff to support them. In Harrisonburg, Kizner assembled a crisis response team for immigrant students and their families. He also sent home forms to parents, asking in English and Spanish: “In the event of family separation (accident, arrest, emergency hospitalization, etc.) who will take care of your child temporarily?”
The Prince George’s County school system in Maryland has worked with the county government to place bilingual “community resource officers” in schools to support students dealing with immigration-related problems.
Parent-teacher associations in Alexandria have organized “know your rights” seminars, with the first held this month in an elementary school auditorium. At that event, an attorney from the Tahirih Justice Center urged undocumented parents to think about who would care for their children and what would happen to their property if they are detained.
On the limits to protections schools can provide:
Catherine E. Lhamon, a former assistant education secretary for civil rights in the Obama administration, said […] that schools can take many steps to help families. But ultimately, she said, they must also acknowledge that they can’t guarantee anything about the direction of federal immigration policy.
Image by David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images, copied from above-referenced article.
File this under “things we didn’t know we didn’t know”: there’s a fairly large population of undocumented Irish nationals living in the US.
What set us Googling was a series of Tweets referencing Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly’s visit with Donald Trump yesterday, in which the PM brought up the status of the 50,000 or so undocumented Irish immigrants currently in the US. Kelly said to Trump,
“This is what I said to your predecessor [Barack Obama] on a number of occasions – we would like this to be sorted,” he told the president at a lunch event. “It would remove a burden off so many people that they can stand out in the light and say: ‘Now I am free to contribute to America, as I know I can.'”
Some additional searching brought up regular news stories about undocumented Irish immigrants, from a 2015 NPR report—
Gerry is one of an estimated 50,000 Irish who are not authorized to be in the U.S., according to the Irish embassy in Washington, D.C. Most of have stayed too long on their visas, and most live in the large Irish populations of New York City, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
— to a New York Times story from 1989 detailing similar issues.
The interesting through line in the articles is the fact that Irish people generally look white — though in the 19th century, they were often viewed as an inferior “kind” of white — and therefore aren’t subject to the same profiling as people of color.
A 2007 LA Times article points out that being a white illegal immigrant can be useful:
Irish immigrant advocates are acutely aware that the American public doesn’t identify the Irish as alien, let alone illegal, and they consciously leverage this positive prejudice to their advantage. “The fact that they’re white Europeans agitating for immigration reform is helpful,” said Niall O’Dowd, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and publisher of the Irish Voice newspaper. “Bottom line is that every ethnic group brings their own strength to the debate. We can’t put a million people in the street, but we have positive political identification and a lot of access to Democrats and Republicans.”
Still, a CNN article this week notes that undocumented Irish are feeling scared under the Trump administration, too.
All in all, it’s food for thought about the relationship between skin color and anti-immigrant feeling, and a reminder that assumptions about who’s foreign have changed a lot over the decades.
The second executive action on immigration has created more uncertainty and fear, and students are in the thick of it. We’re hearing this loud and clear from our survey respondents. To that end, here are two resources for helping immigrant and refugee students.
Teaching Tolerance, one of our favorite sites, has a great resources now available: Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff. There’s a wealth of information here, from information on being undocumented, FAQs about immigration raids, and some concrete suggestions for what educational communities can do.
What Educators, School Support Staff and Communities Can Do
- Issue a statement—in English and in other languages spoken at the school—articulating that the school supports immigrant students/parents and affirming publically that it is a welcoming site.
- Stress the importance of taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and well-being of children and entire communities.
- Distribute “know your rights” materials to students, families and communities about what to do if a raid occurs or an individual is detained.
- Identify a bilingual person at your school who can serve as the immigration resource advocate in your building or on your campus.
- Work with parents to develop a family immigration raid emergency plan.
- Provide a safe place for students to wait if a parent or sibling has been detained.
- Provide counseling for students who have had a family member detained by ICE.
- Work with your school board to pass a resolution affirming schools as welcoming places of learning for all students, distancing the schools from enforcement actions that separate families.
There’s much more at the link.
The ACLU has a thorough section–Know Your Rights–for all kinds of circumstances. Today, we’re highlighting their downloadable Fact Sheet for Families and School Staff: Limitations on DHS Immigration Enforcement Actions at Sensitive Locations. While things are unfortunately changing quickly, this is a good resource for knowing what the baseline has been in the past for enforcement actions in places like schools, at bus stops, and in hospitals.
Know of something we’re missing? Stick it in the comments or get in touch.
Here are an article and video that speak to immigration and deportation and shed some light on the history of sanctuaries (past) and sanctuary cities (present).
“Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America” looks back to the arrival of Salvadorean and Guatemalan refugees during Reagan’s administration — and to the role of churches and other religious communities in sheltering them and opposing federal deportation orders. The story then considers policy under the Obama administration and the possible actions of the Trump administration.
We like the embedded video for adding the stories of a present-day father of three sheltering in a church, the pastor whose church he inhabits, and a Guatemalan woman who was sheltered by a church in the 1980s. Viewing today’s searing events through the lens of previous ones gives hope that we can find a kinder way.
The article and video are part of a New York Times series called Retro Report: Essays and Documentary Videos that Re-examine the Leading Stories of Decades Past.
(Photo of Reagan by J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press from the NYT article referenced below.)
Haberman, Clyde. (2017, 5 March). Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/column/retro-report.
Countries vary in who can be a citizen
As we continue thinking about immigration in this new year, we thought you might like some resources about citizenship and naturalization around the world. Whether for your own information or your students’, it’s helpful to realize that rules about who “belongs” in a country vary a lot. For example, most of know babies born in U.S. territory are automatically entitled citizenship, but the same isn’t true in Germany, among other places.
From public radio in Los Angeles, you can read about How Citizenship Is Defined Around the World.
The vast majority of nations in the Americas recognize jus soli [Latin for “Right of the Soil”, or right to citizenship based on location of birth]… Outside of the Americas, however, straightforward jus soli policies are rare. The norm in Europe, Asia and in much of Africa and elsewhere is some form of jus sanguinis (Latin for “right of blood”) citizenship, typically granted to children born to a national of that country.
Through the National Constitution Center’s website, you can read another article and link to the text of other countries’ laws pertaining to citizenship. To do so, click here, then select “birthright citizenship” from the upper right quadrant of the circle, then select the country whose laws you want to see.
Finally, National Geographic has a photo essay of new American immigrants, published in the wake of the Immigration Act of 1917 that (ahem) significantly restricted immigration to the US.
(Embedded image by Frederic C. Howe, captioned “A multinational group of immigrant children gather on a roof garden on Ellis Island, NY”).
Next up in our Oral History series, an example of a project assignment for community college students working in groups to conduct oral histories. This is student-facing content; we’ll address teacher-specific content and tips soon!
This assignment was used in a community college setting, but with tweaks, it could easily be used with high school students or other adult learners.
Next up: strategies for helping students conduct respectful interviews and act as responsible historians.
Oral History Project
We often think of history as big events—think battles, coronations, explorations—that’s observed impartially, recorded, and carefully preserved in libraries and universities for later generations. But history is as much about the lives of every day people as so-called great events, and we all can play an important part in preserving our own, and our community’s, history.
During the second half of the quarter, you and your group will be completing an oral history project. Since we’ve begun this quarter by reading, writing, and discussing issues of immigration, you’ll continue with this theme and interview an immigrant to California. You’ll choose a subject, conduct background research, conduct the interview, preserve the interview, and get it in shape to share with the world.
Your group will be responsible for the following portions of the project:
- Create and submit a group Oral Histories Project plan.
- Meet with your group, review the project requirements, and assign the work to individuals. Be sure to divide work as equally as possible and keep in mind each group member’s strengths and weaknesses. You are required to turn this in to Emily. Use this list to help you anticipate the work that you’ll be responsible for doing.
- This plan can, and probably will, change over the course of the project. You’ll note that in your final self/group project evaluation.
- Identifying an interview subject and coordinating the interview. YOUR SUBJECT CANNOT BE A MEMBER OF THIS CLASS. Beyond that, anyone with an immigration story to tell is qualified.
- Approaching the subject to request an interview
- Setting up meeting times and places that work for everyone
- Getting the basic facts about the interviewee’s story in order to conduct background research (ie where they immigrated from, when, etc.)
- Having a backup plan!
- Preparing and submitting a formal group work distribution plan.
- Conducting background research both before and after the interview
- Before the interview: use research to help formulate questions. You should know a little bit about the interviewee’s homeland and immigration situation. Were many other people making the same journey at the same time? Was immigration driven by world events?
- Before the presentation and essay portion: Follow up on anything the interviewee mentioned that you don’t know much about. This will help you put this particular story in context.
- Generating interview questions
- Create a list, longer than you think you need, of potential questions to ask. Storycorps is a great place to begin.
- Prioritize and prepare your potential questions for easy access during the interview
- The interview! THIS MUST TAKE PLACE IN PERSON!
- Coordinate the interview! Choose an appropriate and comfortable time and place for the interviewee. Be sure to consider the needs of the interviewers for recording purposes.
- Know everyone’s roles.
- Who will make sure that the interviewee and interviewers know when and where to meet?
- Who will ask questions?
- Who will manage the recording (audio required; video optional)
- Who will provide any other necessary support?
- Find out whether interviewee is open to follow up questions after the official interview, whether via phone, email, or any other method.
- Be sure to have a backup plan and contact information for everyone.
- After the interview
- Send the interviewee prompt thank yous and an invitation to presentations.
- Group review and recap ASAP to be sure you’re on track with all the project work and requirements.
- Identify further areas to research.
- Any follow up questions for the interviewee? Ask!
- Presentations, location TBA
- Your audience: classmates, community members, and your interviewees, if they can make it.
- Five-ten minutes to present background, summary of interview, and why/how this story is important. You are required to incorporate both audio and visual elements (ie voice recordings, photos or maps, props, and any other material that can help the audience appreciate the history that you’ve taken).
- Sharing more broadly: preservation techniques. We’ll discuss options in class.
- Written requirement: Oral History Essay
- Each group member is responsible for his/her own final essay on the interview
- Your essay will incorporate some of your background research and the interview material and will make an argument about why this story is important to preserve. We’ll discuss how this will work more as we get closer to the deadline.
- Self and Group Evaluation
- You’ll complete an evaluation for both your own role and that of your group in completing this project.