Immigrant communities across the United States have reported a sharp increase in fear of deportation since Trump was elected.
Across the United States, organizers are presenting an antitode to the rising climate of fear in immigrant communities with a series of anti-deportation trainings aimed at ensuring undocumented people know their rights in the face of a ongoing wave of immigrations raids and an expected intensified crackdown.
Don’t open the front door if immigration officials knock. If detained, only tell them your name. Only sign documents after you speak to an attorney. These are some of the directives being taught at the “know your rights” training sessions from New York to Los Angeles. Organizers want to help people push back against detentions.
In the Big Apple, Yaritza Mendez, an outreach coordinator at the immigrant advocacy group, Make the Road New York, made the session as engaging as possible. In a role-playing exercise, the audience roared with laughter as a woman wearing a vest with “ICE” taped on her shirt burst in the room after knocking loudly on the door.
“I try to make it interactive because it’s long and very sad, in a way,” Mendez told AP.
Even people who are not undocumented attended the session, hoping to pass on the information to neighbors and friends.
“In reality, all of us are afraid,” Pascalina Chirinos, a permanent resident from Venezuela living in the United States for 5 years, told AP. “The air that we breathe is very tense.”
Across the country, in Los Angeles, Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, is also training members of his community, with demand rising day by day.
“We’re training the trainers,” he told AP. “People don’t have to be lawyers to share what the constitutional rights of people are.”
Last week, Reuters reported that the Department of Justice had sent a letter to deploy 50 judges to immigrant detention facilities across the country in order to speed up deportation process.