USA: Immigrants Prepped For Raids


An article by Michelle Liu from the New Haven Independent (Connecticut)

A half-dozen immigration officers enter a factory and demand identification. The workers inside look up from their sewing machines in horror. What would you do? What can you do?

This was the first scenario posed to a crowd of 50 at a “Know Your Rights” workshop hosted by Junta for Progressive Action Saturday morning, one of many workshops and rallies held across the country on a National Immigrant Day of Action.

Video of skit
(click on image to watch video)

The workshop, conducted mostly in Spanish at Fair Haven School, guided audience members through their constitutional rights in the face of immigration officials. It is the first in a series of workshops regarding immigration and deportation that the organization is holding in light of the presidential election.

With President-Elect Donald Trump set to begin his term in less than a week, New Haven’s immigrant community is gearing up for what advocates expect to be a tough four years ahead. In spite of the city’s “sanctuary” status, established protocol by local police not to assist in immigration raids and municipal identification cards, many worry about the reach of the federal government. Some who spoke reminded others of the .

So when the president-elect has talked candidly of deporting millions, preparing for ICE to come knocking on your door doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Junta’s Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri and Mary Elizabeth Smith led a discussion through a video of various scenarios in which undocumented immigrants face police pressure: ICE officials knocking at your doorstep; getting pulled over by a cop; a raid at the aforementioned workshop.

The rights outlined are simple on paper: If cops show up at your home, don’t just open the door. Ask if they have a warrant, and make sure the warrant has 1) your name, spelled correctly and 2) the signature of a federal judge. Otherwise, don’t let them in.

If you’re pulled over, the only piece of information you have to give is your name. You don’t have to answer any other questions. And don’t carry fake papers —  or your passport —  on your body.

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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While some attendees asked questions, others in the seats shared their own memories of close run-ins with immigration officials.

Fatima Rojas, the event’s translator, offered her own take culled from experience (though not the advice a lawyer would give you, she acknowledged): Don’t open the door, period. Even if the warrant is right.

Of course, in the moment, you might get nervous. You might forget your rights.

Smith flashed a small red, laminated card to the audience. On one side, the card reminds the holder of her rights; on the other are a set of statements to be presented to a police officer which exercises the holder’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (see above). Everyone received a card.

Some of the workshop’s youngest teachers were in fact students themselves: seven Fair Haven 6th graders taught by David Weinreb, whose bilingual class consists of kids who’ve moved to the U.S. in the last three years.

The budding thespians played out three confrontational scenarios they themselves had written and staged, set in a car, a workplace and a courtroom. (Watch one above.)

In what Rivera-Forastieri referred to as the Theatre of the Oppressed, the students were acting out situations that could feasibly happen to them and their families. That is to say, they were working through the reality they live in. They’ve built up the skits through a nonfiction unit in class, learning about immigration law and visiting city hall.

Stacy Salazar, who played a lawyer in the courtroom skit, said through a translator that although she felt a little nervous, she was excited to be up on stage. Through her class, she’s learned that in the face of immigration officials, it’s important to remain calm and learn your rights — and she’s inspired to become a lawyer in real life, too.

These are lessons students bring home and share with their parents. “Parents listen to their kids,” Rivera-Forastieri said.

“This is one piece of the puzzle,” Weinreb said of the skits. “My students are working on all fronts … to be able to include them in adult conversations [and] have them be voices of expertise is extremely powerful.”

A second workshop, to be held on Feb. 4, will delve deeper into the logistical concerns of those who might be facing deportation — such as finding a lawyer and figuring out what to do with property or family in which the children are U.S. citizens.