Ad­vo­cacy groups had braced for im­mi­gra­tion law

Austin American-Statesman - - MONEY & MARKETS - By Nancy Flores nflo­res@statesman.com Con­tact Nancy Flores at 512-912-2559.

When Gov. Greg Ab­bott signed a “sanc­tu­ary cities” ban in May, lo­cal ad­vo­cacy groups pushed back with a sum­mer of re­sis­tance that in­cluded join­ing law­suits, launch­ing know-your-rights train­ing ses­sions and orga- niz­ing protests, ral­lies and marches.

Now, even as Se­nate Bill 4, a law that would al­low po­lice to in­quire about a per­son’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus dur­ing rou­tine po­lice en­coun­ters such as traf­fic stops, was blocked tem­po­rar­ily Wed­nes­day, two days be­fore it was set to take ef­fect, non­prof- its and ad­vo­cacy groups are ramp­ing up ef­forts to pre­pare im­mi­grants to han­dle any sce­nario rang­ing from what to do in the first 48 hours of de­tain­ment to how to in­ter- act with law en­force­ment.

Most non­prof­its are mov­ing away from gen­eral knowyour-rights in­for­ma­tion to arm­ing peo­ple with spe­cific strate­gies to em­power them­selves. At a re­cent de­por­ta­tion de­fense train­ing hosted by the Work­ers De­fense Project, at­ten­dees learned how to mo­bi­lize if a fam­ily mem­ber, neigh­bor or loved one is de­tained. The group which helps low-in­come work­ers and is part of the fed­eral law­suit chal­leng­ing the state’s new im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment law, taught work­shop at­ten­dees how to build a suc­cess­ful de­por­ta­tion de­fense cam­paign around an in­di­vid­ual, in­clud­ing how to write a com­pelling story for an on­line pe­ti­tion.

Sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions are hand­ing out busi­ness-size cards with scripts in case of an en­counter with a law en­force­ment agent.

“I do not wish to speak with you, an­swer your ques­tions, or sign or hand you any doc­u­ments based on my 5th Amend­ment rights un­der the United States Con­sti­tu­tion,” the card reads. “These rights are avail­able to cit­i­zens and nonci­t­i­zens alike.”

At weekly Work­ers De­fense Project train­ing ses­sions at the Mex­i­can Con­sulate and area churches, fa­cil­i­ta­tors often role play dif­fer­ent sce- nar­ios to pre­pare peo­ple who may be stopped for speed- ing or asked for an iden­tifi- cation card.

The rul­ing, from U.S. District Judge Or­lando Gar­cia, pre­vents the law from tak­ing ef­fect while a law­suit against it goes for­ward. “We just don’t know what to ex­pect from the courts,” said Sam Robles, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the Work­ers De­fense Project. “We want to make sure peo­ple have pro­tec­tion that they need.”

“No mat­ter what hap­pens, we know this fight is go­ing to con­tinue,” said Luis Ortega, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Im­mi­grants United. “SB4 goes be­yond a law. Our job will be to de­feat the false rhetoric that de­mo­nizes the im­mi­grant community.”

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