© Rick Reinhard 2017
A family watches as some 500 people marched from the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Washington, DC to the White House to oppose the President's immigration policies. Washington DC, February 16, 2017.
Immigrants are feeling besieged in Trump’s America. Trump has followed through on xenophobic proposals many hoped were campaign bluster—from expanding the deportation dragnet to include virtually all undocumented people, to the now-legally invalidated Muslim travel ban.
Resistance is vital. Here’s how you can help the immigrant community
Lobby your elected officials and sign petitions
Contact your Senators and Representatives. You can call the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be directed to your Representatives. Let your elected leaders (and their staff) know you want them to protect immigrants, Muslims, and refugees.
Tell them to demand transparency from the two agencies responsible for immigration enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Remind them of pending immigration legislation, such as the BRIDGE Act, which would temporarily protect DACA recipients.
Ask them to continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.
Make the Road NY offers a nifty tool for contacting your senators on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s a petition from United We Dream and Moveon.org to ask that your city become a sanctuary city, and another to register your opposition to Trump’s—currently blocked— Muslim ban. This one asks that DACA recipient, Daniel Ramirez Medina, be freed after immigration agents arrested the twenty-three-year-old Mexican immigrant on Friday, though he’s never been convicted of a crime, his lawyer says.
Volunteer your skills
If you’re a practicing attorney or law professor, consider joining the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which helps provide representation to low-income and indigent immigrants before ICE and the federal courts system. The Los Angeles area-based National Association of Immigration Consultants is looking for volunteer legal assistants, as are other organizations.
Advocacy groups are always needing volunteers to help with such tasks as coordinating events, taking pictures, writing blog posts, translating and interpreting, fundraising, and other duties. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, for example, is searching for volunteers to help newly sworn-in citizens register to vote, and legal residents to fill out citizenship applications.
Many cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Milwaukee offer municipal IDs to people regardless of legal status. These provide access to basic services, discounts, and perhaps more importantly, a sense of belonging. Join a program in your city if available and spread the word.
Lobby your local elected officials to join the sanctuary movement. There are more than 140 sanctuary jurisdictions, both cities and counties, across the United States. If you’re a member of a church or other place of worship, think about talking to your leadership about becoming a sanctuary. Nationally, there are more than 800 congregations that have become sanctuaries since Trump’s election, up from about 350 before then. Check out the resources page at the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s website to learn more about becoming a sanctuary congregation.
Know your rights to help yourself and others
Mayra Joachin, a staff attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, advises immigrants to carry “know your rights” cards to present to immigration agents should the need arise. The law center has one to print out on its website, as do many advocacy groups.
Non-immigrant allies should be aware of these rights should they encounter situations in which immigrants need help. There have also been cases in the past of legal residents and citizens being detained--deported, even—and some experts say that Trump’s executive order could lead to racial profiling.
When confronted by immigration agents, don’t answer questions or sign any papers without first consulting an attorney, which you have a right to as soon as you are detained. When ICE comes knocking, ask to see a warrant signed by a judge, either by having agents hold it to the window, or sliding it under the door.
Take to the streets
There have been a number of immigration protests since Trump’s executive orders on immigration. Activists are in the early stages of planning a mass national strike on May 1st. They’re hoping to recreate the protests of 2006, when millions of immigrants and allies took to the streets and successfully defeated a draconian anti-immigrant bill in Congress. Follow your local immigrant rights organization so that you can participate, too.
Here’s a list of groups you can join leading the way:
- United We Dream
- National Immigration Law Center
- Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- Voces de La Frontera
- National Immigrant Justice Center
- American Immigration Council
- The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
- National Day Laborer Organizing Network
- Grassroots Leadership
Give financial support
If you can’t show up in person, you can give tax-deductible donations to these groups. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates on their efforts and share their work!