Immigrant advocates gearing up to help protect undocumented immigrants under Trump administration
Immigrant advocates are formulating a plan to deal with if and when Donald Trump’s administration executes his deportation strategy.
According to The Guardian, one such resistance movement in Austin, Texas, centers on a reverend ready to create a physical barrier between undocumented immigrants and immigration enforcement agencies.
“We have kind of a canned spiel that one person just keeps repeating,” said Babs Miller, a minister at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin.
Miller is a trained and certified immigration observer who is part of the Sanctuary of Streets initiative, which aims to frustrate immigration raids, the same enforcement strategy used to target Central American families by the Obama Administration last year.
When agents arrive at the door, undocumented immigrants can call for help and one or more U.S. citizens will stand in front of the door to watch, challenge and film law enforcement with the objective of ensuring that constitutional rights are respected and encouraging a media spotlight.
Immigrant advocates, who dubbed Pres. Barack Obama “deporter-in-chief," are seeking to expand on methods like that after Trump begins his presidency.
Trump has pledged removal of up to three million undocumented immigrants, but unless they have a warrant signed by a judge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees are not allowed to enter homes without permission.
Miller said the Sanctuary of Streets initiative has over 100 trained volunteers so far, who will mobilize based on city council districts to make response times quicker. The hope is to train at least 500 in the next month or so.
A hotline will be provided for eight hours a day and cars are being handed out that say “No abra la puerta,” which means “don’t open the door,” and provide migrants with the words to say if ICE agents arrive at their door: “I do not wish to speak with you, answer your questions, or sign or hand you any documents based on my fifth amendment rights under the United States constitution.”
With an estimated 1.5 million, Texas has the second-largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, behind California, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
According to The Guardian, a growing number of churches in the U.S. are expected to open their doors to undocumented immigrants as ICE policy discourages enforcement at “sensitive locations” like places of worship.
While many Democratic-leaning cities like Austin intend to use tax dollars to help undocumented immigrants with legal defense, Texas’s Republican-led Legislature is set to debate a bill that would eliminate “sanctuary cities” that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, a proposal supported by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who tweeted in November that he would “sign a law to ban sanctuary cities…and already issued an order cutting funding to sanctuary cities.”