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

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NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: So, we have policies in place that say that no city employee, including NYPD, is not supposed to collaborate with ICE. Unfortunately, we've had community members come to us saying, "I heard when ICE was knocking at our neighbor's door, and we called the police, and the police came and told all of us that we had to collaborate with ICE; otherwise, we were obstructing the law." So, I think it depends. And, unfortunately, even though if you have blanket policies, the individuals may want to choose different actions because they either believe in the deportation system or in the presidency, or maybe they just don't know better.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Adelina Nicholls, in Atlanta, of the Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights, how are you preparing there? And what is the city doing about this?

ADELINA NICHOLLS: First of all, thank you for having me, Amy. We have been preparing since 2016. And I don't know if you remember that we had here like a nationwide -- another operation that was to target Central American families around the United States. Here in the state of Georgia, more than 130 families were targeted, with their children. At that time, our concern is that why our community members continue opening the door to ICE.

So we engaged in a door-to-door campaign called ICE Free Zone, Zona Libre de ICE, where we go talking to people, to neighborhoods, to the trailer parks, to the churches, to the grocery stores, canvassing. Many volunteers have helped us with this purpose and allowing us to talk directly to our community members. At this point, we have -- we believe that we have visited more than or talked to people more than 25,000 communities around the metro area and statewide, but, as well, trying to send -- using the social media for people to connect what is happening inside their own communities. We are trying to put together forces, as well, to pushing back these detainer policies, that could allow the localities not to collaborate with ICE.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to this discussion, as we talk about how cities and immigrant rights activists and families are preparing for immigration raids that President Trump has announced for 10 cities. They are holding back on New Orleans because another kind of hurricane is about to hit, the natural hurricane, Barry, so they're saying that the ICE raids won't take place there in the midst of the storm. This is Democracy Now! We'll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: "Serenade to an Undocumented Person" by Los Jornaleros del Norte. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue our roundtable discussion ahead of this weekend's announced raids in nine major U.S. cities, immigration raids to round up thousands of people and, as the administration says, anyone who's in the way. In Atlanta, Adelina Nicholls is the executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights. Shannon Camacho is joining us from Los Angeles, with the Los Angeles County Raids Rapid Response Network, coordinator, of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA. And here in New York, Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York.

Shannon Camacho, the city, how is it preparing? And let me ask you this. I mean, in Hong Kong, we've seen marches of a million. In this country, around the issue of immigrant rights, we've seen millions march. Would that make a difference, do you think?

SHANNON CAMACHO: We absolutely believe that that will make a difference, yes. Even in June, when we believed that the operations were going to start, what our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network did is, us and our partners, we went to the local ICE processing center in downtown Los Angeles, and we had a rally in front of that center, because we wanted to make a message and show ICE and the community of Los Angeles and the rest of the United States that L.A. is going to stand by our undocumented family members and our undocumented brothers and sisters. And so, we believe that that is very important, because we have to tie this into the larger issue.

Tomorrow we are going to have an action, on July 12th -- I mean, today, we're going to have an action tonight at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, which is right next to the ICE processing center. And we're going to do this to show that the Department of Homeland Security is an agency that doesn't have any regard for human life and that ICE is a part of this agency, so that when Congress is approving $4.6 billion -- no questions asked -- for the Department of Homeland Security, what they're doing is giving money for these arrests. What they're doing is giving money for detention centers where people are dying at the southern border. And we need to connect those issues together and show how important it is, as a community, that we demand that Congress not continue to fund the Department of Homeland Security. And so, for that, we need to have rallies and marches and public actions that show that we're ready to act and that the community is present. So we have been planning that since June. And tonight we are going to have that action in downtown Los Angeles.

AMY GOODMAN: Can people intervene, Shannon, if they see a raid taking place? And what about these collateral arrests they're talking about, anyone in the way?

SHANNON CAMACHO: Right. That's a very important point, as well, and it's something that puts a lot of fear in the community, because even though Trump is saying, "I'm going to target people, very specific people, Central American families and people with final deportation orders," it's not just that. ICE has the discretion to make collateral arrests, so there may be people just in the wrong place at the wrong time that do get swept up into the deportation machine. And that's something that we teach folks through our Know Your Rights workshops.

And I think, in terms of how folks can respond, we always say that if you are a citizen, if you are an ally, use that privilege. Be able to, when you see something going on in the street or you notice that your neighbors are experiencing some kind of ICE arrest, go out and document what is happening. Film ICE and try to make the situation calmer for the family, because it is such an intense and terrifying situation to have ICE come to your door early in the morning and arrest you. And so, we really encourage the community to protect each other and to make sure that people don't feel alone in that scary moment. So we really encourage that.

AMY GOODMAN: Immigration legal aid nonprofit groups, represented by the ACLU, are suing the Trump administration in anticipation of the raids, arguing they violate the constitutional right of immigrants to a court hearing before deportation. ACLU of Southern California is saying, in a statement, "The Trump Administration's plan to arrest and deport thousands of Central American families and children without giving them a fair day in court is both illegal and immoral. ... More than one hundred years ago, the Supreme Court decided that immigrants could not be deported without due process. These vulnerable refugees deserve that basic protection." Natalia, here in New York, on this issue, you have child jails, adult jails, immigration jails packed to the gills, 10 times what they were a few years ago. Where are they putting all these people who they're arresting?

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: I mean, they're putting them in the detention centers, both funded by government money, like what just passed in Congress, or in private detention centers. The administration is also getting ready to get places like hotels and other holdings, also local jails, when they have contracts with ICE. And these are the places where they're trying to figure out how to put people, to deport them.

And I think you said something really important, which is that the administration is not allowing due process. And also, a lot of the people who are being persecuted and looked for are people who could have shown up to court, but maybe they didn't get the notice right away, they didn't get a lawyer. Sometimes the courts will move someone's court date to a day without telling them, and because of that, they get an order of removal. Like, it's not the case that they're only looking for people who have criminal cases. It's not the case that everybody who they're looking for should be deported. And it's actually, if people had the right to a lawyer and due process, most of the time they're able to stay here and to prove that everything with their case is fine.

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