Note from Nanea Hoffman: As a Native Hawaiian of mixed blood, the blood of immigrants who may not have been considered to have legal status, and as a human who believes everyone should have the right to compassion, respect, and due process, I support the following article. Constitutional rights, if you didn’t know, derive from personhood, not citizenship. Any person on American soil is entitled to them. And that’s what we’re talking about. People. My ancestors have had to live with illegal occupiers, as have Native Americans. Their descendants have benefited from the social and political structures they installed, merely by luck of birth, and my hope is that the members of this particular little community, the one I have created and nurtured, can find it within themselves to see the personhood of people who simply happened to arrive later. People who seek refuge from horrific violence and who are deserving of kindness, regardless of how they got here. If you cannot do this, click away right now. There is no need to tell me of your disappointment that we are being “political”(code for: I disagree with you and it makes me angry) and that you’ve decided to leave/unfollow/etc. People are not policies. I stand by that and by my writers. As I’ve said before, I don’t stand behind them, I stand in front of them. Proudly.
Though Sweatpants & Coffee is not a political site, we do firmly believe in creating comfortable and safe places—especially here—for everyone. We are a compassionate and inclusive site. Though the United States hasn’t historically been safe for so many, some folks who had managed to carve out some kind of blanket fort for themselves here are, once again, finding what small measures of safety they had under threat. In an effort to increase the support network of some of our most vulnerable friends, neighbors, and family members, I wanted to compile a list of resources that we, especially those of us who are citizens and whose skin color shields us from targeting, can use and support.
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O, a new member of our IFT families, had a 12-hour trip from TX to NY which turned into one that was longer than 24 hours. Sergio Cordova, one of our partners on the border, had given him $50 before he left Texas so that he could buy food along the way, but he spent it all to buy lunch at DFW for a Honduran family who didn’t have a penny. And this while he was bewildered by the airports – it was his first time flying, he had so many layovers, there were so many delays, and so many people flat out declined to help direct him to where he needed to go. Moral of the story: Even when people do you wrong, carry your heart in your hands.
I don’t think I’m overstating the situation when I tell you that we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis where immigration is concerned. Workplace raids like that of 2008’s Postville raid are on the rise; infants and children have been separated from their family members, with reports of some being held in cages, often denied soap and toothbrushes; and many “detainees”—minors and adults alike—are being held in conditions of such squalor as to be ‘”tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease”’ and have “deeply shocked” the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. And, now, after a postponment last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is, reportedly, ramping up for a wave of raids targeting families. It is with this information in mind that I want to share with you some of the information I’ve found.
Two quick caveats before we move forward:
First, please verify information to the best of your ability before sharing: fear for our neighbors should not lead us to share bad information, which can do more damage to our community members than the time “lost” by a quick fact check. Stick with best practice when sharing important information on social media: check the date on the article you feel the need to share and run a quick check on Snopes, NPR Fact Check, PolitiFact, or other reputable fact-checking sites.
Second, when and wherever possible, be sure that any infographics (like these) you share are multilingual or that you share all of them at once if there are separate posters or infographics in different languages. Also, please, as often as possible share images like posters or infographics with important information on them with a transcription of the text on the image: this makes it accessible for those who are visually impaired and rely on a screen reader to access information online.
Let’s start with organizations to which you can donate money. Though many folks balk at the idea of “throwing money at a problem,” in many cases, throwing money at a problem really does help and, if you have the financial ability to do so, these organizations can use all the help they can get.
RAICES: “The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.”
Project Corazon Travel Fund run by Lawyers for Good Government: “Since its creation in July 2018, the Project Corazon Travel Fund (run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation) has sent 37 volunteer lawyers and law students to the front lines of the humanitarian crisis caused by inhumane immigration policies. Our pro bono attorneys … provide free legal services to men, women, and children seeking asylum in the United States.”
Immigrant Families Together’s Direct Action Rapid Response Fund: “All of your funds will go to rapid response needs.” Those needs include travel, safe shelter, cell phones, food, clothes, legal counsel, medical treatment. Immigrant Families Together is in the process of setting up the ability to make monthly contribution pledges.
Immigration Justice Campaign: “The primary goal of the Justice Campaign is to increase access to legal counsel for thousands of immigrants held in detention centers. To achieve this, the Campaign is building a broad network of pro bono allies to serve the many thousands of detained individuals who would otherwise go unrepresented and training private lawyers with new tactics and strategies to enable them to vigorously defend immigrants facing removal.”
Al Otro Lado: “We are a bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico. The bulk of our services are immigration-related. However, the needs of the people we serve are diverse, so we also coordinate with attorneys and non-legal professionals in a range of areas such as family law, labor law, criminal law (particularly post-conviction relief), and employment law.”
This list is non-exhaustive; it’s merely a jumping off point. There are plenty of other organizations, particularly local ones, doing important work. Also note that some organizations, like Lawyers for Good Government, will also accept other types of donation like airline miles, so there are alternative forms of like-cash giving out there.
Now, I want to list a few resources that provide information on direct action you can take in your communities.
First and foremost, if you see activity that you believe is an ICE raid, call 844-878-7801 (844-TRUST-01). Go ahead and program that number in your phone. It is the number for the Rapid Response Hotline and, once you report activity, they can send folks out to verify if an ICE raid is occurring and provide legal support. If you have a smartphone, you can download the ACLU Mobile Justice App which will also allow you to report ICE activity.
The National Immigration Project has these printable “Know Your Rights” cards in English and Spanish that you can carry with you for your own information and to hand to community members who may need one. NAKASEC has a similar printable in English and Korean. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc (CLINIC) also provides printable cards in a variety of languages including Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, and Farsi.
As workplace raids appear to be occurring with greater frequency, preparing for such an event can help empower you and your fellow workers. The AFL-CIO put together an information toolkit for handling such raids. Though some of their information is specifically geared toward a unionized workplace, the toolkit can be helpful regardless of union status. Another toolkit was put together by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the National Immigration Law Center in the wake of the massive raid in Bean Station, Tennessee last year; this particular toolkit is meant specifically to help advocated respond when a raid is actively occurring.
If you are involved in faith communities you can engage with your community about what plans are in place to prepare for and respond to ICE raids in your broader community. The American Friends Service Committee has a variety of resources that can help your faith community become a greater support to immigrants in your area, along with other vulnerable residents in your city or town. Though this particular page is tailored to North Carolina, this American Friends Service Committee webpage also has a number of resources that are not necessarily state-specific, including a number of links to information about bystander intervention.
Again, this is by no means exhaustive. I encourage you to search for organizations local to you and see what work they are doing and how you can best assist. Share information (but verified information!) widely on social media. Sign petitions. Call and/or write your legislators. Vote. Donate. Participate in resistance however you can, just don’t remain silent. Love your neighbor. Help protect their blanket fort
If you are so moved, on July 12, 2019 (the date of this posting), you might join in a candlelight vigil as across the nation, people will be holding up Lights for Liberty. Check for one in your community. We are the hands of hope and compassion.