How You Can be an Immigrant Ally Locally

While making sure that Congress doesn’t fund Trump’s immigration priorities is important, there are also local policies your group can support that will help protect immigrant families. Below are a few recommendations. But remember, if your group is interested in pursuing any of these activities in your city or town, the first step is to reach out to local immigrant rights organizations to see whether there is an existing campaign and to find out how you can support ongoing efforts.

Promote Sanctuary Policies

In response to federal enforcement actions, local governments have begun resisting pressure to participate in the federal government’s mass deportation program by passing legislation or enacting policies to protect their local immigrant communities. Jurisdictions with policies like these have come to be known as “sanctuary cities.” Traditionally, a sanctuary policy is one that limits the extent to which police will help federal immigration authorities deport people. But increasingly, communities are thinking more broadly about the concept of sanctuary, and pushing their local elected officials to not only stop police from collaborating with ICE, but to make a wide range of changes to improve the lives of immigrant communities and to promote racial justice more broadly.

A few examples of local sanctuary policies include:

  • A prohibition against holding any person in custody solely due to a request by ICE
  • A prohibition against local police sharing a person’s release date with ICE
  • A prohibition against inquiring into or gathering information about an individual’s immigration status
  • A prohibition against joint operations between ICE and local law enforcement agencies
  • A prohibition against allowing ICE access to jail facilities, or to persons in local custody, for the purpose of investigating violations of federal immigration law
  • A prohibiting against deputizing of police to act as ICE agents, and terminating any existing 287(g) agreements between the local jurisdiction and ICE

The Center for Popular Democracy has created a comprehensive toolkit that discusses each of these policy components in detail and goes step by step through the process of crafting a strong sanctuary ordinance or resolution. It is available here.

Local Progress, a national network of progressive local elected officials that is uniting elected officials working on sanctuary policies, can provide support to your elected officials and connect them to peers advancing similar policies in other cities.

Going With Immigrants to Ice Check-ins

Many undocumented immigrants have regular check-ins with immigration officers. What’s important to remember is that there are several reasons for why a person might have these and you should never assume that it’s because they’ve done something wrong. It could be that a person was released from an immigration detention center while their case is pending and one of the conditions of release is periodic check-ins. Many immigrants with these mandatory check-ins are afraid that, under Trump, complying with these check-ins might lead to their deportation.

Increasingly, allies of immigrants are going with immigrants to check-ins with ICE officers. This helps by providing immigrants with moral support, but it also allows allies to monitor interactions with immigration officials to ensure there aren’t any violations of an immigrant’s rights. Keep in mind that the rules at these offices vary, and there may be restrictions on who can enter.

People have been taken into ICE custody at their check-ins and detained until they are deported. If this happens it can be difficult to notify family and friends, to gather clothes, a suitcase, important documents, and to find legal assistance quickly. Without people to monitor them, ICE will be even more likely to operate without transparency or accountability. Check with your local immigrant rights organization if you’re interested in going with a person to an ICE check-in.

What Is the Role of the Accompanying Person(S)?

The most important part is being physically present to show ICE that the person checking in has community support. It does not include engaging with immigration officers or staff, unless the person that you are accompanying asks you to do so. You should feel free to take notes about the encounter with immigration officers.

Another way to help a person going to an ICE check-in is to work with them to develop a “rapid response plan” to use in case the person is detained by immigration. The plan should include:

  • Contact information for a family member, loved one, or friend
  • If applicable, a community organization that should be notified
  • Contact information for an attorney or legal organization
  • Where to find their important documents such as passport, children’s birth certificates, prescriptions, etc.
  • Remember to ask for the person’s full name, date of birth, country of origin, and alien registration number (“A” number). That way you or their loved ones can find out where they are by using this ICE detainee locator website—https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do
  • If the person wants, to bring additional Indivisible members to the check in. Some people might prefer to have just one person to go with them while others might want a larger group to accompany them. Ask them what they prefer.

Get “know Your Rights” Training

No matter who is president, everyone living in the U.S. has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. Undocumented immigrants have these rights, too. Since the elections, many people have been attending Know Your Rights workshops, or have been trained to provide Know Your Rights presentations. Understanding what a person’s rights are, regardless of their immigration status, can help protect them from being deported or detained. As an informed ally, you can help by watching for ICE abuses or by helping to train others.

To learn more about these rights, see the following resources:

Additionally, you may have family, friends or coworkers who could be affected, and should share this information with them:

  • Carry a know-your-rights card and show it if an immigration officer stops you. The card explains that you will remain silent and that you wish to speak with an attorney. The card can be found here—https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rights-card.png.
  • Create safety plans. Encourage people who are at risk of deportation to create emergency and safety plans. This family preparedness packet is a good starting place—https://www.ilrc.org/family-preparedness-plan (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese).
  • Practice solidarity! During raids, ICE will question everyone in the vicinity and there’s power in numbers and immigrant allies can help by standing with immigrants getting approached by ICE and remaining silent and refusing to answer questions until an attorney is present. Practice doing so with family, friends, or Indivisible members.
  • Report and document raids and arrests. If it is possible and safe for you to do so, take photos and videos of the raid or arrest. Also take notes on what happened. Call United We Dream’s hotline to report a raid: 1-844-363-1423. There may also be a local raids hotline in your area that you can call. You can send text messages to 877877.

This toolkit is the product of a partnership between: