Shocked Into Action

  • 07/25/2019
  • Reporters Desk

L.A. raids: Rapid Response Network counters Trump’s zero-tolerance policies

Excerpt from an interview by Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour

Editor’s Note: For months, attention has been focused on the detention camps at the border and the conditions under which separated immigrant parents and children are kept under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policies.

The visuals and anecdotes that have come out about the detention centers have been shocking to people of conscience, so much so that many, particularly in California, have been shocked into action, whether by protesting at the Metropolitan Detention Center or hosting workshops informing immigrant communities and their allies of their rights. From this shock emerged the Rapid Response Network. These allies include faith communities, immigrant rights organizations and labor unions.

On July 15, Judy Woodruff interviewed the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights coordinator Shannon Camacho. She coordinates the L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network, a coalition of organizations, attorneys and community members that go out to the community to verify ICE enforcement. The following is an excerpted transcript of the show PBS NewsHour.

Judy Woodruff:  After postponing earlier raids in June, the president said last week that major arrests were expected in a number of cities starting July 14. But, so far, the number of people detained appears to be small.

Government officials are said to be pursuing about 2,000 undocumented immigrants and migrants who are no longer eligible to remain in the country after a court ordered them to be removed and deported.

As we reported earlier, the president claimed that there were more arrests over the weekend [of July 13] than people realize, and more could come later this week in at least 10 cities.

Shannon Camacho, what is your sense of how much — how many raids there were over the weekend? Do you know of immigrants who were rounded up and arrested?

Shannon Camacho: Over the weekend [of July 13], we had not heard of these types of large-scale mass operations that Trump had been threatening. We have not heard of those large-scale operations, thankfully.

Ever since June, we have been doing the know-your-rights information. We have been giving that information to community members, so that they understand their fundamental constitutional rights, regardless of whether the operations happen in June, they happen tomorrow, or they happen into the next month. We’re preparing our community.

As of right now, we have not heard of those massive operations, but we’re still keeping our community informed and we’re still keeping our ears to the ground.

JW: What effect is — are the president’s comments having on the people in these communities?

SC: The effect, obviously, people are afraid, and, obviously, people are worried and feel like this administration and this government is attacking them, rather than protecting them.

But I think what we have seen, especially here in Los Angeles, through the organizing that we have been doing for years, and even since June, when these threats first came into places, we have seen people come to us with a thirst for knowledge, for information on how to protect themselves and how to protect their families, and trying to understand that this is something that is an attack against them.

And so we have seen community members come to our office to learn more about their fundamental constitutional rights, like the fact they have the right to remain silent. They have the right not to open their door if ICE comes to them; ICE only has permission to enter a individual’s home if they have a judicial arrest warrant signed by a judge.

They are coming for that information, and we are equipping them with that. So, we are seeing the community on high alert, but we’re seeing the community be galvanized as well.

JW: So you’re saying they’re not going into hiding?

SC: So, in the city of Los Angeles and in the surrounding areas, I can imagine that there are probably many, many families who are afraid. And that’s something very normal.

But in terms of what we have seen, especially through our community members, through the rapid response networks, we have seen people really step up to the challenge, with fear, but reminding themselves that they do have these constitutional rights. So we do see people prepared.

We have had know-your-rights workshops all throughout Los Angeles. And others are having them throughout the state. And so people are coming to these. We’re seeing a lot of people come and ask really good questions.

So that’s something that’s very encouraging, that people are taking this know-your-rights information, and they’re using it.

JW:  I think it’s important that you’re saying this, Shannon Camacho, because I think many people have the impression that, if people overstay their legal right to stay, if they have exceeded an order or they are disobeying a deportation order, many people would look at that and say, well, they’re violating the law. But you’re saying, despite these orders, they have rights.

SC: Yes. And even one of the populations that Trump said he was going to target was people with final deportation orders. And that sounds like it’s the end-all/be-all of those people’s cases. But, in actuality, that is not the case.

Even people with final deportation orders still have to go through the appeal process in immigration court. And, also, it is very important that they speak to an immigration attorney before anything happens, so that they can get a legal consultation to see if there’s any immigration relief for them.

So that’s something that can be done at any stage. And us at CHIRLA, we do have removal defense attorneys that provide that service to the community members. And ever since June, we have been telling folks, come speak with us.

JW: So, when you are asked to give advice to individuals who are subject to a deportation order, what is your basic advice to them? Are you saying to them, don’t open the door? What do you say to them?

SC: Yes, we say, remain silent. When ICE asks you questions, whether it be outside your door or on the street, don’t give any additional information to them. Close your door. Don’t open the door if they come to your house.

Again, ICE needs to have a judicial arrest warrant signed by a judge with accurate information on the document. And very, very rarely do they actually have those documents. It’s very rare. So, most of the time, they don’t have permission to enter an individual’s home.

So we tell people, close the door. And then the last thing we really stress is, create family plans. Make sure that you have designated people in your family or your friends that are ready to activate to either get you an attorney or to meet with your children if they need to be picked up from day care.

Those sorts of things are something that all our community members can do beforehand, so that they’re prepared in the case of an arrest.

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