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Know Your Rights: How Immigrant Rights Activists Are Preparing for Looming ICE Deportation Raids

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SHANNON CAMACHO: Sure. First of all, thank you very much for having me. I coordinate our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network with CHIRLA, which is the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. And what we've been doing ever since June, when we first expected these operations to begin, is making sure that our community is prepared.

And that means doing the Know Your Rights workshops, telling our community members, through these workshops, not to open the door if ICE comes to their house, to remain silent if ICE stops them on the street, and to make sure they don't sign anything and that they ask to speak to an immigration attorney before they offer any information.

So, we've been doing these Know Your Rights workshops with our different partners in Los Angeles ever since June, because that's when we first thought that these operations would begin. So, honestly, every single week since then, we've been in preparation mode. We've been strategizing with different volunteer attorneys that are part of our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network to make sure that we have a strategy if people start being arrested, and then there needs to be intakes at the local ICE processing center. And so, regardless of what happens, whether the operations start tomorrow or whether they start on Sunday, we have been prepared.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean when you say "don't open the door." Would then ICE knock the door down?

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SHANNON CAMACHO: Right. So, here's the thing. ICE only has permission to enter an individual's home if they have a judicial warrant that is signed by a judge. And not only that, but that judicial warrant has to have all of the information, including the person's name, the person's address, the time of the incident. All of that has to be accurate. So, I can say, and our attorneys know this very well, that it is very rare that ICE is actually able to obtain a judicial arrest warrant. Most of the time they do not have that, meaning they do not have permission to enter people's homes.

So, given that, we tell our community members that if ICE knocks on the door, no matter how aggressively, no matter what they say to people -- and we do know that this is a very deceptive agency, that pretends to be police, that doesn't answer questions -- we tell our community members that no matter what ICE does, don't open the door, because the only way that they could get in is with that judicial arrest warrant. And if they give you any sort of administrative warrant or any other kind of document, you have to review it to make sure that it's a judicial warrant signed by a judge. So that's what we tell our community members here in Los Angeles.

AMY GOODMAN: And what if they don't speak English? How do they read this warrant? And how do they know what to look for, what is legitimate and what isn't?

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SHANNON CAMACHO: Exactly. That is a very good point. It is a very complicated process, which only makes it more important that we have these Know Your Rights workshops. So, our Know Your Rights workshops, they're in Spanish. They're for our community members here in Los Angeles, our immigrant and undocumented members.

And what we do is we have copies of a judicial arrest warrant and use that next to an administrative warrant that ICE usually uses when it goes to people's houses, and we compare the two. We pass those out to people so that they familiarize themselves with those documents, so that in the case that ICE does slip it under the door, they're able to recognize it.

But I think that that's a very good point, that this is an agency that is using -- trying to deceive people, and these people may not know what is going on. For the people that don't attend Know Your Rights workshops, they may not know what a judicial warrant is and whether ICE has permission to enter their home. And so, that only makes it more important that we do the outreach to make sure as many people are aware of their rights as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Natalia Aristizabal of Make the Road, how are you preparing here in New York? And what is the city doing?

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: Good morning, first of all, and thank you for having me. So, very similar to what was being shared from CHIRLA, we are doing Know Your Rights. But additionally, what we're doing is also letting people know who is possibly at risk right now. The administration leaked, or, like, the press found out information, specifically about who they're going to be looking for. So, we're telling community members those rights, but also saying if you had a previous order of deportation, if you had any contact before with ICE, you are likely a person that they're going to come looking for you. They often, for different reasons, have people's home addresses, and that's how they're going to go and find someone.

So we tell people, you have to go and get a legal screening. You have to go try to get and see if you have any relief, and then, definitely, to do family preparations. If you have a little kid, you need to figure out who in your family is going to be able to take care of that little kid. You need to be able to put together your paperwork and your home passport and put it in a secure place and make sure that someone in your home knows all this information. And also, in a city like New York, know that there is legal representation free and available.

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AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is a critical point. You have people who might be taken whose children, U.S. citizens, are in the house.

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: Yes. I mean, this is a problem with what is happening currently, that there is no humanity towards the actions that ICE and the administration are taking. They have no problem kidnapping people before they go to work or before they come back home. And they do not think about the impact that it has on the family, on the health or economic well-being of the family.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the policy of New York City being a sanctuary city? Does that help in any way? Can people -- oddly enough to say this, but can people turn to the police? Mayor Bill de Blasio says the police will not cooperate with ICE.

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