ICE resistance group encourages citizen action – Chico Enterprise-Record


CHICO — Blackbird Cafe hosted an information session on resistance to U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement operations and detainment of local individuals Friday evening.

The resistance session and training was designed to provide knowledge about the methods used by ICE and how to identify ICE officers, as well as other ways to help people seeking asylum.

Over 40 were in attendance, including concerned citizen Robin Engel.

“I’m simply here because I’m afraid for my community … and I want to learn what I can do to help protect people,” Engel said.

NorCal Resist

The session was organized by NorCal Resist and hosted by Autumn Gonzalez and Ruth Ibarra.

Neither are immigration lawyers but are involved as organizers. Although Gonzalez is a lawyer, she did not give official legal advice. It was intended not only to provide information for undocumented listeners, but also citizens who want to know how to aid asylum seekers.

Ibarra and Gonzalez led the session, providing info handouts, cards and printed application forms for potential legal observers — citizens willing to help identify ICE activity and possibly advocate on behalf of detained individuals.

Preventing and handling detainment

Ibarra began by addressing those who could be undocumented.

“If you are an immigrant, try to avoid any negative interactions with law enforcement,” Ibarra said, advising against carrying documents like birth certificates. She and Autumn said no ICE activity had been reported in the last few years, but that it was likely to have happened and had not been reported.

Both also emphasized the right to remain silent.

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“ICE is trained to take information out of you,” Ibarra said, and encouraged carrying “know your rights cards.” Never opening the door of a home to unknown persons, she said, is key.

It’s also important for employers to know their rights and advocate to help their undocumented employees, she said. Employers should not let ICE go into private areas not open to the public, like the kitchen, without a warrant, and there are penalties for letting them in.

They also provided information about criminal proceedings, reminding all that once detained, a lawyer does not have to be provided for someone but must be obtained to appear before a judge. Therefore, many struggle to get a lawyer in time for a hearing, relying on funds from the Mexico consulate.

The NorCal Resist hotline

Gonzalez then explained working as an observer, which can mean being called to an area that might have ICE officials or taking photos of suspicious activity.

“Volunteers can shine a light on what’s happening,” she said.

“Just by being there and using our privilege as documented citizens, we can hopefully keep violations of people’s rights from happening … and show solidarity with the folks who are being targeted in our targeted community. We’re gonna be there, and we’re going to show by our bodies being out here that we’re against what’s happening.”

Gonzalez also asked that observers note if local authorities are assisting ICE, as this is also illegal. Although Butte County passed anti-sanctuary legislation last year, it doesn’t mean it is legal to aid ICE, Gonzalez said.

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Observers are asked to record anything suspicious, if they can, as well as noting if there might be police or other law enforcement present. Ruth added that one identification is in groups of unmarked white vans — ICE has a contract with Enterprise to use unmarked white vans, she said.

It’s very important in assisting people being detained to get their Alien Registration Number or “A-number,” which means that the person has had contact with the government. As detainees can be taken to other states, having an A number makes it possible to track them and provide a bond to bring them home.

Both also added that observers are needed as much as direct action, in a group, or to provide more help to those on the hotline, even though ICE activity in terms of large scale raid has not occurred in years.

“The raid we saw in Mississippi is unlikely to happen here,” Ruth said.

Need for accompaniment

Gonzalez also asked for applicants to consider signing up as a potential accompaniment for a variety of situations. On average, there could be two or three requests for accompaniment per day, she said. Accompaniment simply means helping undocumented persons with rides, help getting food and medicine, and other assistance, even as far as going to court hearings.

A lot of undocumented people seeking asylum are in Butte County, Gonzalez said, including LGBTQ and trans women needing medical help.

The majority of these individuals are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, she added.

“Trans and LGBTQ asylum seekers usually have strong asylum cases and we expect them to stay,” she said, but those with a child are often fleeing violence or economic issues, and they will have a more difficult time being able to stay, Gonzalez said.

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“For whatever reason, our laws see economic desperation as desperate from seeking violence,” she said.

After answering more questions, Autumn and Ruth concluded with asking that observers “don’t go it alone,” and always follow up after helping with detainment situations by providing any recordings of ICE activity.

When dealing with people who need help, it’s important to be aware that this is a traumatic experience, Gonzalez said.

“Be respectful of folks. Don’t pry.”

 

 



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