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Immigrant communities are under attack, but the people are fighting back with all creative might and shared courage. (Image: via Voces De La Frontera)

Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids

Bill Quigley

Resistance to unjust government action is the duty of all people who care about human rights.

As Dr. King reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham jail, "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."

It is now clear that Latinos and Muslims are Trump’s first target for government actions.  The orders just released put ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and US Customs and Border Protection on steroids.  These new policies also will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ , as well as Black and Muslim communities.

Here are ten recent examples of how people are directly resisting.

One.  Blocking vehicles of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.   A coalition of undocumented immigrants, faith leaders and other allies blocked a bus in San Francisco which was full of people scheduled for deportation. Other buses were blocked in Arizona and Texas.  People blocked streets outside of ICE facilities in Los Angeles.

Two.  People have engaged in civil disobedience inside border highway checkpoints to deter immigration checks.  People have called neighbors to warn them that ICE is in the neighborhood and held up signs on  highways that ICE is checking cars ahead.

Three.  Cities refusing to cooperate with immigration enforcement and targeting.   Hundreds of local governments have policies limiting cooperation with immigration enforcement.

Four.  Colleges and universities declining to cooperate with immigration authorities and declare themselves sanctuary campuses.  Dozens of schools have declared themselves sanctuary campuses and over a hundred more are considering some form of resistance to immigration enforcement.

Five.  Churches sheltering and protecting immigrants scheduled for deportation in their sanctuary.  Over a dozen churches are already doing this with hundreds more considering sanctuary.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles declared itself a Sanctuary Diocese in December 2016 and pledged to defend immigrants, and others targeted for their status.

Six.  Detained people demanding investigation into illegal actions.  Over 400 detained immigrants in Broward County Florida wrote and publicized a letter to government officials challenging the legality and conditions of their confinement.

Seven.   Divesting from stocks of private prisons.  Private prison companies CCA and GEO have pushed for building more prisons for immigrants and have profited accordingly.   Columbia University became the first university to divest from companies which operate private prisons.

Eight.  Lawyers have volunteered to defend people facing deportation. People with lawyers are much less likely to be deported yet only 37 percent of people facing deportation have an attorney and of those already in jail the percentage drops to 14 percent.   Los Angeles has created its own fund to provide legal aid to those facing deportations.  Other groups like the American Bar Association recruit and train volunteer lawyers to help.  Know Your Rights sessions are also very helpful.  Here are CAIR Know Your Rights materials for Muslims.  Here are Know Your Rights materials for immigrants from the National Immigration Law Center.

Nine.  Restaurants declaring themselves safe space sanctuaries for undocumented and LGBTQ workers.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 25 percent of workers in restaurants are Latino.

Ten.  Sit-ins at elected and appointed officials at government buildings. Bodegas have gone on strike.

Eleven.  Social self-defense.  In a recent piece for Common Dreams, Jeremy Brecher pointed out that decades ago communities in Poland organized themselves into loose voluntary networks called Committees for Social Self-Defense to resist unjust government targeting. This opens resistance in many new forms in addition to the ones identified above including: setting up text networks for allies to come to the scene of ICE deportation raids, to document and hopefully stop the raids; identifying and picketing homes of particularly aggressive ICE leaders; providing medical, legal and financial assistance to help shelter people on the run from authorities; and boycotting businesses and politicians that cooperate with ICE.

Resist!  For more information on how, check out some of the many organizations already resisting targeting and deportations.  Mijente offers creative ideas and examples for action to expand the idea of sanctuary to protect all residents from criminalization and deportation.  National Day Laborer Network has many resources for communities seeking to stop deportations.  Central to the campus sanctuary movement is MovementCosecha.  The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild provides resources for lawyers.  Faith communities looking into this should connect with the Sanctuary Movement.  Puente Arizona is a great example of grassroots organizing in local communities.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

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