Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.
Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist. Today, we’re encouraging people to join the #HeretoStay network, which keeps people updated on ways to fight current immigration policies, and alerts people of when their presence is needed at rallies.
With Donald Trump going forward with — and planning for the augmenting of — Obama and Bush era ICE raids, arrests, and deportations, much of the country’s immigrant population is left feeling particularly vulnerable. Nearly 700 arrests were made by ICE in the past week.
As Vox notes, “for the most part, last week’s raids wouldn’t have been out of place in the early years of the Obama administration.” This isn’t an equivocation on the awfulness of Trump’s policies so much as an example of the fact that Obama’s policies — at times a softening continuation, rather than a reversal, of George W. Bush’s policies — weren’t always as noble as his rhetoric. (Immigrant communities here have been subjected to a quieter, but fundamentally similar, form of endangerment for decades.) Nor should it any way mean that just because people were less attuned to the issue in times of relative calm, they should remain silent now — particularly since Trump himself is so vocally pro-deportation, pro-Wall, and thereby vocally pro-institutional antagonism towards millions of Latinx (and, through different tactics, Muslim) immigrants in the U.S.
Even if this week’s ICE actions aren’t dissimilar from what the country was already seeing, there were a few key differences, which Vox also underscores. For one, through a new “collateral arrest” tactic, some of the people arrested were taken from the premises of the raids without warrants specifically for their arrest. (If ICE agents couldn’t find the people they were looking for, but instead came upon another unauthorized immigrant, there were numerous cases where they would arrest whoever they found.) Also, the raids seemed to be intentionally coordinated to occur in sync across the country in a fear-tactical display of force. Vox likewise notes that Obama’s working with ICE came alongside separate attempts to seek paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who didn’t have certain criminal charges — while Trump’s idea of what constitutes deportation-worthy criminality is far more sweeping. Politico writes of his January 25 executive order:
Trump said any immigrant who had been merely charged with a crime could be targeted for deportation. That’s a significant departure from Obama’s policy: the previous administration primarily sought out only immigrants who had been convicted of felonies or at least three misdemeanors.
That article quotes immigration attorney David Leopold, saying:
When you read that executive order, there is no other conclusion that you can draw except that everybody is a target. Everybody… It’s carefully couched in terms of prioritizing criminals, but it’s designed to encourage and allow ICE agents to pick up anybody they can get their hands on.
Vox emphasizes that “high-profile raids are designed to affect not only the people who are physically being arrested, but anyone else who could be in a similar position.” NBC New York, for example, notes how the arrests have, indeed, spread fear among immigrant communities in NYC. An employee at a restaurant in Queens, in the article, speaks of the ways in which the raids seem to be impacting daily morale, noting that it seems like people are afraid to leave their homes.
Keeping all of this in mind, now’s a particularly important time to actually show up for immigrants. The #HeretoStay network provides both ways that you can help from afar (there are a series of petitions right on its homepage) and also be a physical presence in the fight to protect immigrants from deportation. You can sign up to receive text messages about emergency rallies from #HeretoStay here. Today, for instance, I received a text about a New York rally — and there’s an accompanying petition — to release Daniel Ramirez Medina, the DACA recipient — and father of a three-year-old — who came to the United States when he was seven, detained by ICE in Seattle and still in custody. #HeretoStay is powered by United We Dream, “the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation.”