It started as a sickening rumor: More ICE raids were coming, targeting undocumented Charlotteans. Local organization Comunidad Colectiva reported that many families have decided to stop sending their children to CMS literacy programs until the raids die down. Others, hesitant to go grocery shopping, planned on rationing their food. Even a task as benign as taking out the trash has become a risk, as ICE agents are known to wait by local dumpsters in complexes.
With the news of increased ICE raids confirmed, Comunidad Colectiva is actively seeking people who hold citizenship privilege to bring food, transport children to their programs, and to verify reported ICE spottings. They are especially seeking volunteers who look/identify as white. The focus on white people explicitly is for strategic reasons, as people of color are more vulnerable to violence at the hands of ICE and cops who might show up.
Another way to use citizenship privilege is to spend your money at immigrant-owned businesses or businesses with a heavy immigrant customer base. These businesses are facing financial losses because much of their clientele might fear to leave their houses.
Comunidad Colectiva held a training Saturday, July 13, for allies interested in helping our neighbors. They provided the following takeaways.
- Do not repost sightings of ICE on social media unless they are verified. Check the dates and location. There are many cases where people will repost instances from a week earlier or from another area and it adds to the fear and causes confusion. If you are posting on behalf of another region, make sure that it is explicitly stated.
- If you think you see an ICE agent, get a picture or video and information like car make, color, plate number, description of suspected agent (including clothes), and contact Comunidad Colectiva at 980-533-5721 to get it verified.
- RECORD RECORD RECORD! It is important to record ICE activity because there might be civil rights violations.
- The role of a verifier, or legal observer, is not to disrupt the detention. That might make things worse for the person being detained. If you are watching the detention take place ask the agents the following questions: “Where are you taking them?” “What are they being charged with?” “What’s your name?” “What agency do you work for?” “Do you have a badge or other ID?”
- ICE uses “administrative warrants” which are arrest warrants issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They’re signed by DHS officials, not judges, and they do not give ICE the authority to enter a home or stop and search a vehicle without the owner of that home or vehicle’s consent. In order to enter a person’s home ICE would need a “judicial warrant”—or a search warrant signed by an actual federal judge—and ICE almost never uses such warrants. For this reason, ICE agents wait until people go to the dumpster, leave their house, frequent bus stops, etc.
- ICE agents don’t have uniforms. They are normally in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles with tinted windows. Sometimes they will wear bulletproof vests that read “POLICE.”
- ICE depends on those who are undcoumented not to know their rights and to volunteer information to incriminate themselves, including offering up their names. While recording you may tell anyone detained to not say anything, not to sign anything, not to consent to fingerprints, and to talk to their lawyer. Try to learn these phrases in Spanish.
—Do not say anything! No digas nada.
—Do not sign anything. No firme nada.
—Don’t take fingerprints. No acepte las huellas dactilares.
—Talk to your lawyer. Hable con su abogado.
****Save these in your phone in case the opportunity arises for you to help.
To volunteer with Comunidad Colectiva, email email@example.com.