by Nina Randazzo
The room is filled with people of all ages discussing what kind of information to record when witnessing an ICE raid.
“Use of force.”
“Entering a home without a warrant.”
This is a training session for rapid responders, who are trained volunteers who agree to be alerted of ICE raids and arrive at raid sites to serve as legal witnesses. Although the volunteers are instructed not to interfere at all with the raid for legal and safety reasons, the presence of these volunteers can deter ICE agents from engaging in abusive tactics. Perhaps most importantly, the volunteers also provide valuable witness accounts for any legal action that may be taken against ICE in the wake of a raid.
Last week, news broke of ICE planning to launch one of the largest-scale raids in US history this month, “Operation Mega,” allegedly aiming to target 8,000–10,000 individuals. ICE has since announced the cancellation of this particular operation due to the emergency needs caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. However, communities remain skeptical and stand at the ready.
Immigrant Rights Groups Fight Back:
According to the ACLU, abusive and illegal ICE practices that occur regularly during ICE raids include entering homes without warrants, disproportionately targeting Latino neighborhoods, and coercing individuals into submitting to searches and questioning when those individuals have the right not to do so.
For example, almost always, ICE has only an “administrative warrant,” which is not issued by a judge and does not carry legal weight, but ICE agents use this “warrant” to scare people into submitting to a search and questioning. Without well-documented witness accounts, however, bringing a case against ICE for these abuses is substantially more difficult. For this reason, rapid response organizations train their responders to document their observations in real time to potentially serve as evidence in any cases that may be brought against ICE for violating the rights of the persons whom they detain.
As the administration expands its definition of who can be targeted for detainment and deportation, such responses against ICE raids is more important than ever. To get involved with a rapid response network and to receive training as a rapid responder in the Bay Area, please look into the organizations below:
Bay Area Organizations
United We Dream Migra Watch (a national organization):
San Francisco Immigrant Legal & Education Network (SFILEN):
People Acting in Community Together (PACT) San Jose:
Oakland Community Organizations:
Know Your Rights
Raid Response Hotlines
If ICE comes to your home in the Bay Area, you may call the following hotlines:
For San Francisco proper: 415–200–1548
For Alameda County: 510–241–4011
For San Mateo County: 203–666–4472
For Santa Clara County: 408–290–1144
National hotline through Migra Watch: 1–844–363–1423
Here is a list of national and local hotlines maintained by the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
Nina Randazzo is a graduate student in Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University.