What Can We Do: Strategies to Combat Immigration Policy.

We have talked a couple of times before about issues this country is having with ICE and targeting immigrant communities in harmful ways. We looked a couple of ways to try to address that, or even draw attention to the problem, and today we’re really going to tackle it with some mutual aid based solutions.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen that on some occasions I have seen ICE Enforcement officials, and posted it to social media. I always make sure to specifically ask them if they are with ICE, post the time and location, where I am coming from and heading to, and any other relevant information that may be helpful to people who see it. I also try to call the United We Dream tip line (844-363-1423)  to report these encounters so they can spread the information via text message and their website to as many people as possible. United We Dream and We Are Here To Stay partner together, and while they very much appreciate these tips, they also vet them to make sure they are spreading accurate information. False information can hurt immigrants just as much as ICE can by spreading fear. One way to assist them vetting is to turn on location settings when taking photos, tag the location, use the hashtag #weareheretostay so they can find the photos of the events described. This isn’t just for sightings of ICE, but for sightings of people being detained, of police profiling POC, and other evidence that may help someone if it came to light.

We Are Here To Stay and United We Dream are very cool, and I suggest people check them out. You can get text updates from them that are area specific. They will alert you to protests in your area, or even arrests of immigrants in your area and people mobilizing to protest that action or to help that persons family.  For example, I receive text alerts from them, and I received an alert that there is a hunger strike and solidarity camp out at the immigration detention center near where I live. I was able to find out more online, and see that even if I wasn’t able to camp out for the duration of the action, the folks camping out in solidarity with the people in the detention center needed food and extra blankets since the April weather was iffy, and that was something I could probably accomplish.

Also, when you call in a tip about ICE, they call you back to make sure you are ok after your encounter, and to see if you need any kind of assistance. They also provide lots of tools from workshops to do as a group to educate the community about the rights of immigrants, to handouts and flyers to pass out or put up around to help immigrants who may be passing through in high traffic areas (such as transit centers) to be aware of their rights. The materials are also multi-lingual.

 

I’ve been asked before if I actually accomplish anything by posting to social media when I encounter ICE. Do people find alternate routes to travel, or even feel that it’s necessary? Am I just fear mongering? My answer is that I suppose it’s hard to say. I try to include as much information as possible when I post, so that if people choose to share or retweet it, they are giving others the whole picture, and not leaving holes in the data. Some people may feel like they have no choice, but to still travel. Others may feel afraid and choose to stay home. In my area, it’s especially hard to say because I live in a wealthy area in the PNW where there are not as many of the immigrants we think of being targeted; Muslims, Hispanic people, etc. However, here there are many people who have H-1 visas to work with tech companies, and just this week an executive order was passed to crack down on those folks as well, despite the fact that they are frequently in a higher income bracket than the other immigrants being targeted. I have talked to immigrants in my area who many people would never think would be afraid of ICE, but they are. They may be financially well off, but they still have a visa, and they are afraid. So, as someone who has the privilege of citizenship, I feel like it’s my responsibility to watch our government and put that information, with as much detail as possible, out there. I don’t sensationalize or editorialize it, I simply let people know when I encounter ICE. If there are immigrants who are not bothered by this, and choose to go about their lives, that is great. I would hate for them to live in fear. If there are people who use that information to alleviate their fears of ICE and find alternative routes to work or school, then good. That was the reason I did it.

I have also been asked how to find groups to follow that post warnings to immigrants or notifications of actions, or rally people around solid concrete direct actions. This really depends on where you live, but I’ll tell you about how I found groups where I live. First, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, where are they keeping immigrants they detain? In jail? In some kind of camp? What are the living conditions like?” So I started searching online. Turns out one of the largest Immigrant Detention Facilities in the US is near where I live and there are several groups dedicated to concrete actions against the detention center, as well as helping support the families and communities of those detained. That is how I found NWDC Resistance  as well as Kitsap Immigration Assistance. The great thing about groups like this, aside from all the incredible work they do, is that if you find them on Facebook, they are also friends on Facebook with a lot of really great groups in a lot of other places. So, let’s say you live in Los Angeles, if you go to the Facebook page for NWDC Resistance they are connected with groups in LA, and even groups that protest detention centers in LA as well as other immigrant help and education groups in LA.

Another way I found groups was when I embraced my political identity. For a long time I liked to say,  “Well, in an ideal world I would be anarcho-communist, but it’s not an ideal world, so I’m a Progressive.” However, I decided to stop giving up on being idealistic, and work on the things that matter. I joined forums and groups online dedicated to anarcho-communism. Anarcho-communism is an ideology that deals a lot with the protection of marginalized people, and the “no borders” idea. It was there that I found a lot of local groups that get together and actually organize and go to the protests for immigrants that I would hear about through We Are Here To Stay or NWDC Resistance. These active Anarcho-Communists working to protect marginalized people are often called Antifa, although in the media this term is conflated with the Black Bloc, which is a tactic used sometimes, such as at Berkeley to prevent Neo-Nazis from entering the school. If you want to find a group of people who are actively working to protect immigrants rights, who are going to protests, or who work with marginalized groups together you might try checking out your local anarcho-communist/ antifa group.

What Specific Actions Can I Take To Combat ICE?

Remember, from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. What are some of your abilities? Are you good with computers? Are you good at art? Good public speaker? Multi-lingual? Lets break it down.
I found a project online that is an open source, Amber Alert-style text based notification system for ICE activities. It’s still being worked on, and if you are a programmer, maybe this is a way for you to get involved! My husband works on this sometimes. 
Are you a gardener? Plant some extra rows of food, and take it to protesters at a detention center, or better yet, see if you can find out from them when you can take food so that it gets to the families of people affected by deportation.
Help organize a childcare collective to create a sanctuary space for immigrants to leave their kids while they work. ICE has been targeting schools, and because of this, many immigrants have chosen to not take their children to school, or even leave them home alone.
Are you a lawyer? Help set up a legal aid night so people can understand what their rights are, and if they want to, get paperwork done in the event they are deported and something needs to be done with their children. Otherwise, depending on where they live, their kids may be taken into custody. As a lawyer, the possibilities are endless, although your time probably isn’t. Evaluate the needs of your community, and figure out what works best!

Are you multi-lingual? You could help people fill out paperwork for their children’s school, for the doctor, do a “Know Your Rights” workshop, do a voter education class in multiple languages to prevent people from being disenfranchised, and lots more!

Are you someone who feels like they don’t have a lot to offer? Well you care, and that’s a start! You could start by taking some webinars or doing some reading from The Icarus Project about Mutual Aid based mental health care, and provide yourself as a resource to individuals, families or communities impacted by ICE. Many people aren’t able to afford traditional mental health care, or don’t trust it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it, especially in very traumatic times.

Are you an artist or a writer? You could create art, blog posts, zines, and much more to support immigrants and the idea of immigrants and diversity. You could teach a class to children of immigrants that helps them express themselves. Maybe even do a zine or find a space that would be willing to display their work! Having that self expression validated, especially as they are experiencing so much erasure, would be a big help to them.

Some more radical suggestions I have heard of include forming an affinity group with friends, using cash (must be cash) to buy both a new SIM card and a new cheap cell phone from a 7-11 or similar convenience store (every member of the affinity group should do this) and riding around public transit for a while, calling ICE, either leaving the lines open, or making fake reports (such as members of the police in your home town). Some have suggested calling themselves in, which would also work, especially if you are in a place of privilege, however, remember, they may actually arrest you, so if you are calling on yourself or someone else, be sure they you (or they) don’t need access to medication, and are not more likely to get shot by law enforcement (for example, a POC). Another suggestion I have heard of is to make posters such as “Free Puppies” or “Guitar Lessons” etc, and have the ICE phone number so you have lots of people call, however this does increase the chance some random person will accidentally get a hold of ICE who will actually make a report. You have to be very strategic about which areas and neighborhoods you put those up in, to maximize how much you’re wasting ICE’s time, versus minimizing the harm to immigrant communities. Also, if you are a tech savy person you could probably set up a VPN pretty quick and download a robodial program and just robodial ICE. These however funny, don’t really address the leftover damage to immigrant communities, so I urge you to consider these options with some of the options above, and help immigrant communities while also trolling ICE, if you want to troll ICE.

Lastly, one of the most valuable things we can do, especially in the long term, is come together. Reach out to communities outside your own. Try to go to events you may never have been to before. Make new connections. Have you been to a mosque or a synagogue before? If not, then respectfully, attend one. Depending on your community, consider respectful attendance at a Pow Wow or Potlatch, or other event. We are all safer, we all have a better community when we all stand together.

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2 thoughts on “What Can We Do: Strategies to Combat Immigration Policy.

  1. Thanks for writing this! There are a lot of great ideas and some things that are new to me. I think since I’m outside the US, the best thing I can do right now is donate to some of the organizations you’ve highlighted. Thanks for everything you’re doing. We must all stand together.

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    1. I’ve lived out of the US before too, also during some rough (though not nearly this rough) political times, and it can be hard to feel like you’re doing enough, and I think its great you’re still working so hard to do whatever you can. Solidarity!! ❤

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