Rapid Response Across the USA

Helplines Assist Undocumented Immigrants; Opportunity for Citizen Solidarity

Screen grab from Humboldt Rapid Response Network

We’ve written before about Rapid Response Networks, which offer real-time support to people who are witnessing or experiencing an ICE raid on undocumented immigrants. We’ve been very inspired by the trainings and emergency call-outs we’ve received to observe threatened ICE raids. It’s emotionally powerful to physically “show up” to say it’s wrong for our government to intentionally sow fear. (Read more here about how our local Santa Clara County Rapid Response Network works and how to support it.)

California has around a dozen Rapid Response Networks, which makes sense given that it’s long been a state where many undocumented people live and that it’s home to approximately 25% of young immigrant DREAMers. The Pew Trusts has an interactive map showing the number of “unauthorized immigrants” living in the US, by state. The topline figure was 11.3 million in 2015-16, of which a bit more than half were born in Mexico. Spanish-speaking immigrants are the most visible, but not the only targets: Vietnamese immigrants are thought to be vulnerable in Santa Clara County, California and Irish immigrants in Boston.

The Santa Clara County Rapid Response Network‘s dispatchers—-the people who take the calls reporting ICE activity and, if the caller is targeted, walk them through their rights—tell us that immigrants call from all over the US seeking advice. Hearing that, we’ve started compiling a list of Rapid Response Networks operating around the country. We’re sharing it here (see below).

Maybe you’re interested in volunteering for one, or maybe you or someone you know could use assistance from one. Please write us if you know of other Networks. We plan to continue updating this spreadsheet.

Notes After Charlottesville

Ella Baker portrait by Robert Shetterly. Courtesy of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Found here by Small Stones.

The Ella Baker Center is re-publicizing this post from 2013: Ella’s Song: “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”.

We found the words of the post comforting. As the author notes,

The song is an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve.

Here is a video of the Sweet Honey performance:

We are also proud to share the news that some of Ézé’s pictures from this past weekend are helping folks understand the hatefulness of the white supremacists. (We featured his work and words here).

Here’s one of his pictures that’s been picked up by the AP. The man pictured is accused of killing Heather Heyer, the protester who died.


Ézé is on Instagram here. Below is a screen grab of another of his photos from the past weekend.


Finally, here’s a recent article from The Atlantic: Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews. While the hatred is multi-faceted, so, too, is the pushback.

With love from us to you.

Migra Watch

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).