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 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?
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.