Neigh­bor­hood net­works ready to doc­u­ment raids


Manteca Bulletin - - Local/ State -

SAN FRAN­CISCO (AP) — Im­mi­grant rights groups are or­ga­niz­ing a new net­work of neigh­bor­hood watch teams in Cal­i­for­nia and else­where in re­sponse to threats by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion of a deep­en­ing crack­down against those liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

Re­li­gious groups and mi­grant rights ac­tivists are train­ing hun­dreds of vol­un­teers across the coun­try to be part of a Rapid Re­sponse Net­work, a sort of emer­gency re­ac­tion team whose pur­pose is to have ob­servers doc­u­ment the ar­rests of im­mi­grants, find them le­gal coun­sel and sup­port them and their fam­i­lies as they nav­i­gate the court sys­tem.

In the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, fears of mas­sive de­ten­tions have in­creased this year amid re­ports that im­mi­gra­tion agents are plan­ning to ar­rest as many as 1,500 peo­ple who are in the coun­try il­le­gally. Agents ear­lier this month also de­liv­ered im­mi­gra­tion in­spec­tion no­tices to 77 restau­rants and other busi­nesses in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

“The sil­ver lin­ing of this cri­sis is that all the out­rage is turn­ing into sol­i­dar­ity across race and class in our coun­try,” said Lorena Mel­gar­ejo, a com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer with the San Fran­cisco non­profit Faith in Ac­tion, who helped launch the net­works.

Mel­gar­ejo said more than 1,500 peo­ple have been trained in San Fran­cisco and San Ma­teo coun­ties alone.

Im­mi­grants can call phone hot­lines in many parts of the coun­try if they are be­ing de­tained by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. When some­one calls to re­port a de­ten­tion, vol­un­teers are im­me­di­ately dis­patched to ver­ify the re­port and if an im­mi­grant is be­ing ar­rested, they act as le­gal ob­servers and of­fer moral sup­port to their de­tainees.

Armed with note­books and cell­phones, the teach­ers, priests, re­tirees, tech work­ers and oth­ers have been trained to take notes, record video and take pho­to­graphs dur­ing the de­ten­tions. They also learn about the ba­sic rights of im­mi­grants and how to stay out of the way of fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents.

Hot­line staffers post in­for­ma­tion about the de­ten­tions on so­cial me­dia and con­tact im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­neys who are sent to de­ten­tion cen­ters. Im­me­di­ately pro­vid­ing le­gal ad­vice en­sures im­mi­grants “are not sum­mar­ily re­moved in the mid­dle of the night with­out any wit­nesses from the com­mu­nity,” said Sofia Corona, an at­tor­ney with the Los An­ge­les-based Im­mi­grant De­fend­ers Law Cen­ter, part of a rapid re­sponse net­work in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

“Many folks don’t know that un­less there is a war­rant with their name, they can walk away,” she added.

ICE spokesman James Sch­wab warned against any­one in­ter­fer­ing with ap­pre­hen­sions.

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