Know your rights: How immigrant rights activists are preparing for looming ICE deportation raids

SOURCEDemocracy Now!

Immigrant communities across the country and their allies are preparing for nationwide raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to begin Sunday that will target undocumented members of immigrant families in at least nine major cities. The cities where raids will take place are said to be Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. New Orleans had been on the list, but the city announced this weekend that ICE was temporarily postponing the raids due to Tropical Storm Barry. We speak with a roundtable of immigrants’ rights activists: Adelina Nicholls, the executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights in Atlanta; Shannon Camacho, the Los Angeles County Raids Rapid Response Network coordinator for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights; and Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York. Camacho says, “We tell our community members that no matter what ICE does, don’t open the door.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Immigrant communities across the country and their allies are preparing for nationwide raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, planned to begin Sunday, that will target undocumented members of immigrant families in at least nine major U.S. cities. Immigration officials told The New York Times the raids will last several days and target at least 2,000 people. They warned the operation could also result in so-called collateral deportations, meaning immigrants who happen to be at the scene of a raid could also be swept up, even if they were not originally targeted.

The cities where raids will take place are said to be Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. New Orleans had been on the list, but the city announced this weekend that ICE was temporarily postponing the raids due to Hurricane Barry.

On Wednesday, acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the raids are absolutely going to happen, though he did not say at the time when they would take place. He added, quote, “There’s approximately a million people in this country with removal orders,” but that they weren’t the targets of the upcoming ICE raids. Last week, Trump also repeated threats that raids are coming soon.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I don’t call them raids. I say they came in illegally, and we’re bringing them out legally. These are people where we have the papers. We’ve gone through the court system. They’ll be starting fairly soon. But I don’t call them raids. We’re removing people that have come in—all of these people over the years that have come in illegally, we are removing them and bringing them back to their country.

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump originally announced the raids last month but later postponed the move, saying he was giving lawmakers a chance to figure out a legislative solution to the, quote, “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” Both the Senate and the House passed a $4.6 billion border bill days later, despite a number of progressive lawmakers and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus vehemently opposing the bill. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to the news of the raids.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Families belong together. Every person in America has rights. These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country. This brutal action will terrorize children and tear families apart.

AMY GOODMAN: As Sunday approaches, immigrant rights groups have been ramping up efforts to make sure affected communities know their rights and are prepared for possible raids. The ACLU is suing the Trump administration on behalf of immigration legal aid nonprofit organizations, arguing the raids violate the constitutional right of immigrants to a court hearing before deportation. And mayors across the country have also been standing up to ICE, in New York, in San Francisco, in Denver, in Chicago and elsewhere.

This all comes as President Trump has dropped his efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. But on Thursday he issued an executive order to gather information about people’s citizenship status from federal agencies.

For more, we’re hosting a roundtable discussion with activists from different cities preparing for the raids. In Atlanta, Adelina Nicholls is the executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights. Shannon Camacho is the Los Angeles County Raids Rapid Response Network coordinator at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA. She’s joining us from L.A. And here in New York, Natalia Aristizabal, the co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Shannon, let’s begin with you. Talk about what you understand is going to happen in Los Angeles and how you’re preparing for it.

SHANNON CAMACHO: Sure. First of all, thank you very much for having me. I coordinate our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network with CHIRLA, which is the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. And what we’ve been doing ever since June, when we first expected these operations to begin, is making sure that our community is prepared.

And that means doing the Know Your Rights workshops, telling our community members, through these workshops, not to open the door if ICE comes to their house, to remain silent if ICE stops them on the street, and to make sure they don’t sign anything and that they ask to speak to an immigration attorney before they offer any information.

So, we’ve been doing these Know Your Rights workshops with our different partners in Los Angeles ever since June, because that’s when we first thought that these operations would begin. So, honestly, every single week since then, we’ve been in preparation mode. We’ve been strategizing with different volunteer attorneys that are part of our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network to make sure that we have a strategy if people start being arrested, and then there needs to be intakes at the local ICE processing center. And so, regardless of what happens, whether the operations start tomorrow or whether they start on Sunday, we have been prepared.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean when you say “don’t open the door.” Would then ICE knock the door down?

SHANNON CAMACHO: Right. So, here’s the thing. ICE only has permission to enter an individual’s home if they have a judicial warrant that is signed by a judge. And not only that, but that judicial warrant has to have all of the information, including the person’s name, the person’s address, the time of the incident. All of that has to be accurate. So, I can say, and our attorneys know this very well, that it is very rare that ICE is actually able to obtain a judicial arrest warrant. Most of the time they do not have that, meaning they do not have permission to enter people’s homes.

So, given that, we tell our community members that if ICE knocks on the door, no matter how aggressively, no matter what they say to people—and we do know that this is a very deceptive agency, that pretends to be police, that doesn’t answer questions—we tell our community members that no matter what ICE does, don’t open the door, because the only way that they could get in is with that judicial arrest warrant. And if they give you any sort of administrative warrant or any other kind of document, you have to review it to make sure that it’s a judicial warrant signed by a judge. So that’s what we tell our community members here in Los Angeles.

AMY GOODMAN: And what if they don’t speak English? How do they read this warrant? And how do they know what to look for, what is legitimate and what isn’t?

SHANNON CAMACHO: Exactly. That is a very good point. It is a very complicated process, which only makes it more important that we have these Know Your Rights workshops. So, our Know Your Rights workshops, they’re in Spanish. They’re for our community members here in Los Angeles, our immigrant and undocumented members.

And what we do is we have copies of a judicial arrest warrant and use that next to an administrative warrant that ICE usually uses when it goes to people’s houses, and we compare the two. We pass those out to people so that they familiarize themselves with those documents, so that in the case that ICE does slip it under the door, they’re able to recognize it.

But I think that that’s a very good point, that this is an agency that is using—trying to deceive people, and these people may not know what is going on. For the people that don’t attend Know Your Rights workshops, they may not know what a judicial warrant is and whether ICE has permission to enter their home. And so, that only makes it more important that we do the outreach to make sure as many people are aware of their rights as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Natalia Aristizabal of Make the Road, how are you preparing here in New York? And what is the city doing?

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: Good morning, first of all, and thank you for having me. So, very similar to what was being shared from CHIRLA, we are doing Know Your Rights. But additionally, what we’re doing is also letting people know who is possibly at risk right now. The administration leaked, or, like, the press found out information, specifically about who they’re going to be looking for. So, we’re telling community members those rights, but also saying if you had a previous order of deportation, if you had any contact before with ICE, you are likely a person that they’re going to come looking for you. They often, for different reasons, have people’s home addresses, and that’s how they’re going to go and find someone.

So we tell people, you have to go and get a legal screening. You have to go try to get and see if you have any relief, and then, definitely, to do family preparations. If you have a little kid, you need to figure out who in your family is going to be able to take care of that little kid. You need to be able to put together your paperwork and your home passport and put it in a secure place and make sure that someone in your home knows all this information. And also, in a city like New York, know that there is legal representation free and available.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is a critical point. You have people who might be taken whose children, U.S. citizens, are in the house.

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: Yes. I mean, this is a problem with what is happening currently, that there is no humanity towards the actions that ICE and the administration are taking. They have no problem kidnapping people before they go to work or before they come back home. And they do not think about the impact that it has on the family, on the health or economic well-being of the family.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the policy of New York City being a sanctuary city? Does that help in any way? Can people—oddly enough to say this, but can people turn to the police? Mayor Bill de Blasio says the police will not cooperate with ICE.

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: So, we have policies in place that say that no city employee, including NYPD, is not supposed to collaborate with ICE. Unfortunately, we’ve had community members come to us saying, “I heard when ICE was knocking at our neighbor’s door, and we called the police, and the police came and told all of us that we had to collaborate with ICE; otherwise, we were obstructing the law.” So, I think it depends. And, unfortunately, even though if you have blanket policies, the individuals may want to choose different actions because they either believe in the deportation system or in the presidency, or maybe they just don’t know better.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Adelina Nicholls, in Atlanta, of the Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights, how are you preparing there? And what is the city doing about this?

ADELINA NICHOLLS: First of all, thank you for having me, Amy. We have been preparing since 2016. And I don’t know if you remember that we had here like a nationwide—another operation that was to target Central American families around the United States. Here in the state of Georgia, more than 130 families were targeted, with their children. At that time, our concern is that why our community members continue opening the door to ICE.

So we engaged in a door-to-door campaign called ICE Free Zone, Zona Libre de ICE, where we go talking to people, to neighborhoods, to the trailer parks, to the churches, to the grocery stores, canvassing. Many volunteers have helped us with this purpose and allowing us to talk directly to our community members. At this point, we have—we believe that we have visited more than or talked to people more than 25,000 communities around the metro area and statewide, but, as well, trying to send—using the social media for people to connect what is happening inside their own communities. We are trying to put together forces, as well, to pushing back these detainer policies, that could allow the localities not to collaborate with ICE.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion, as we talk about how cities and immigrant rights activists and families are preparing for immigration raids that President Trump has announced for 10 cities. They are holding back on New Orleans because another kind of hurricane is about to hit, the natural hurricane, Barry, so they’re saying that the ICE raids won’t take place there in the midst of the storm. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “Serenade to an Undocumented Person” by Los Jornaleros del Norte. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our roundtable discussion ahead of this weekend’s announced raids in nine major U.S. cities, immigration raids to round up thousands of people and, as the administration says, anyone who’s in the way. In Atlanta, Adelina Nicholls is the executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights. Shannon Camacho is joining us from Los Angeles, with the Los Angeles County Raids Rapid Response Network, coordinator, of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA. And here in New York, Natalia Aristizabal, co-director of organizing at Make the Road New York.

Shannon Camacho, the city, how is it preparing? And let me ask you this. I mean, in Hong Kong, we’ve seen marches of a million. In this country, around the issue of immigrant rights, we’ve seen millions march. Would that make a difference, do you think?

SHANNON CAMACHO: We absolutely believe that that will make a difference, yes. Even in June, when we believed that the operations were going to start, what our L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network did is, us and our partners, we went to the local ICE processing center in downtown Los Angeles, and we had a rally in front of that center, because we wanted to make a message and show ICE and the community of Los Angeles and the rest of the United States that L.A. is going to stand by our undocumented family members and our undocumented brothers and sisters. And so, we believe that that is very important, because we have to tie this into the larger issue.

Tomorrow we are going to have an action, on July 12th—I mean, today, we’re going to have an action tonight at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, which is right next to the ICE processing center. And we’re going to do this to show that the Department of Homeland Security is an agency that doesn’t have any regard for human life and that ICE is a part of this agency, so that when Congress is approving $4.6 billion—no questions asked—for the Department of Homeland Security, what they’re doing is giving money for these arrests. What they’re doing is giving money for detention centers where people are dying at the southern border. And we need to connect those issues together and show how important it is, as a community, that we demand that Congress not continue to fund the Department of Homeland Security. And so, for that, we need to have rallies and marches and public actions that show that we’re ready to act and that the community is present. So we have been planning that since June. And tonight we are going to have that action in downtown Los Angeles.

AMY GOODMAN: Can people intervene, Shannon, if they see a raid taking place? And what about these collateral arrests they’re talking about, anyone in the way?

SHANNON CAMACHO: Right. That’s a very important point, as well, and it’s something that puts a lot of fear in the community, because even though Trump is saying, “I’m going to target people, very specific people, Central American families and people with final deportation orders,” it’s not just that. ICE has the discretion to make collateral arrests, so there may be people just in the wrong place at the wrong time that do get swept up into the deportation machine. And that’s something that we teach folks through our Know Your Rights workshops.

And I think, in terms of how folks can respond, we always say that if you are a citizen, if you are an ally, use that privilege. Be able to, when you see something going on in the street or you notice that your neighbors are experiencing some kind of ICE arrest, go out and document what is happening. Film ICE and try to make the situation calmer for the family, because it is such an intense and terrifying situation to have ICE come to your door early in the morning and arrest you. And so, we really encourage the community to protect each other and to make sure that people don’t feel alone in that scary moment. So we really encourage that.

AMY GOODMAN: Immigration legal aid nonprofit groups, represented by the ACLU, are suing the Trump administration in anticipation of the raids, arguing they violate the constitutional right of immigrants to a court hearing before deportation. ACLU of Southern California is saying, in a statement, “The Trump Administration’s plan to arrest and deport thousands of Central American families and children without giving them a fair day in court is both illegal and immoral. … More than one hundred years ago, the Supreme Court decided that immigrants could not be deported without due process. These vulnerable refugees deserve that basic protection.” Natalia, here in New York, on this issue, you have child jails, adult jails, immigration jails packed to the gills, 10 times what they were a few years ago. Where are they putting all these people who they’re arresting?

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: I mean, they’re putting them in the detention centers, both funded by government money, like what just passed in Congress, or in private detention centers. The administration is also getting ready to get places like hotels and other holdings, also local jails, when they have contracts with ICE. And these are the places where they’re trying to figure out how to put people, to deport them.

And I think you said something really important, which is that the administration is not allowing due process. And also, a lot of the people who are being persecuted and looked for are people who could have shown up to court, but maybe they didn’t get the notice right away, they didn’t get a lawyer. Sometimes the courts will move someone’s court date to a day without telling them, and because of that, they get an order of removal. Like, it’s not the case that they’re only looking for people who have criminal cases. It’s not the case that everybody who they’re looking for should be deported. And it’s actually, if people had the right to a lawyer and due process, most of the time they’re able to stay here and to prove that everything with their case is fine.

AMY GOODMAN: Adelina Nicholls, what is the position of the Atlanta mayor right now? Do you feel you have the city’s support—


AMY GOODMAN: —in not cooperating with ICE?

ADELINA NICHOLLS: Yes. There is a—she is the one that has made the difference here in the state of Georgia. The city of Atlanta had stand up with immigrant communities, closing ACDC, this detention center where ICE used to send many immigrants who were detained around in Georgia. And the mayor stand up and support all our efforts against this criminalization, as well the collaboration with ICE.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. Of course, we’re going to continue to cover this through the weekend and next week. Adelina Nicholls, joining us from Atlanta, the Georgia Latino Alliance of Human Rights. Shannon Camacho, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, speaking to us from Los Angeles. And Natalia Aristizabal, here in New York, of Make the Road New York.

When we come back, 10 years after the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras, we speak to the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, about the connection between the 2009 coup and today’s migrant crisis. Stay with us.


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