Amid what many consider to be a mounting humanitarian crisis at the southern border, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is expected to conduct mass raids across several cities this weekend. As such, many immigrant rights advocates are working to share vital messages to ensure undocumented migrants know their rights. But there are also ways concerned citizens can help immigrant families during the ICE raids.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that the raids are scheduled to start on Sunday, July 14, which President Donald Trump confirmed on Friday. According to CNN, ICE is reportedly planning conduct raids in 10 big cities across the United States in an effort "to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants" currently living in the United States.
With the goal to arrest and deport, many are concerned the raids will lead to even more family separations. "Cruelty does not make America safer," Sen. Dick Durbin wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "Mass arrests and deportations are only going to create fear in communities across the United States & separate more families & children. We are better than this."
Similar worries and fears surfaced last month; in late June, the Miami Herald reported that immigration officials were planning a "deportation crackdown," but Trump later tweeted that those plans had been stalled. "At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border," he tweeted on June 22. "If not, Deportations start!"
With reports of mass raids and subsequent deportations looming at the moment, there are few ways you can help and support immigrant families right now.
Make Sure They Know Their Rights
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement on Twitter with a reminder that undocumented immigrants do have rights: "Now more than ever, we need everyone to know: WE HAVE RIGHTS."
If you or someone you know is at the center of an ICE raid, whether it's at home or at work, according to the the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), it's imperative to remember the following rights:
- You have the right to say that you want to speak to an attorney
- You have the right to remain silent
- You have the right against unlawful searches by ICE agents
- You don't have to sign any documents
- You have the right to not open the door
The also ACLU recommends that, if you're over 18, to carry your immigration paperwork with you at all times. The ACLU also says: "Stay calm. Don’t run, argue, resist, or obstruct the officer, even if you believe your rights are being violate. Keep your hands where police can see them. Don’t lie about your status or provide false documents."
The American Immigration Lawyers Association has also complied "Know Your Rights Handouts" in seven different languages for several different scenarios.
Call Your Local "Rapid Response" Hotlines
As HuffPost reported, one way you can help immigrant families during the raids is to "report ICE activity and enforcement actions" by calling your local "rapid response" hotline. Doing so will alert advocacy groups to send an attorney to the area.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association provides a list of contact information for various cities.
Support Organizations Fighting For Immigrant Families
Several organizations are working tirelessly to protect and fight for immigrant families every single day. If you have resources to support their invaluable work, here are few advocacy groups and organizations to consider:
- The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): This nonprofit provides underserved immigrant families and refugees with "free and low-cost" legal services. With deportations and arrests looming, many will likely be in need of legal services.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): The national organization has already filed a "preemptive lawsuit" ahead of the mass ICE raids, according to The Hill. A donation to this organization will support their ongoing advocacy for immigrant families and asylum-seekers.
- One Family Coalition: Comprising business leaders, this organization aims "to help the migrant children and families at the heart of the humanitarian crisis at the border." The coalition has partnered with Save the Children, and donates products — toothbrushes, clothes, phone cards, etc. — and money to the nonprofit. If you're interested in volunteering, One Family Coalition also organizes regular trips to Save the Children's border shelters where you can also get involved.
- Young Center For Immigrant Children's Rights: Based in Chicago, this organization serves unaccompanied minors who've fled violence, poverty, and more, and arrive in the United States on their own. The Young Center supports children while they're in deportation proceedings and helps advocate "for their best interests."
- Kids In Need of Defense: This organization provides pro bono legal services to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings. "Unaccompanied children apprehended at the border face deportation proceedings; the majority must make their claim for protection without a lawyer. The result: children can be sent back to situations where their well-being, and even their lives, are in danger," the organization's mission reads.
- Border Angels: This volunteer nonprofit supports immigrant families in San Diego with various services, including a free legal assistance program.
- The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC): For the past three decades, this organization has been working to help protect women and children "displaced by conflict and crisis."
This is just a small sampling, but be sure to check in with your own communities to see how you can financially support or get involved with local efforts as well.
Contact Your Reps
Now is the time make sure your voice and opinions are heard about the treatment of immigrant and asylum-seeking families in the United States and the ongoing humanitarian crisis happening at the border. Contact your representatives (via phone or Twitter, for example) and let them know how you feel about the upcoming ICE raids and urge them to support legislation that protects immigrant families.
Trump told reporters on Friday that the ICE raids will be focused on "criminals," and while the exact cities and exact times they'll be conducted in have not been confirmed, CNN reported that they will occur "over multiple days" and will target "some 2,000 family members." As for the locations, according to the Los Angeles Times, the ICE raids will reportedly be conducted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, and New Orleans.
Countless immigrant families and those close to them are undoubtedly feeling fearful right now, but know there are people out there advocating for them, and there are some easy ways everyday concerned citizens can help as well.