Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) will no longer be able to attempt raids and home invasions without the watchful eye of Coloradans across the state, say multiple organizations that have come together to organize a new support system for those who experience an immigration raid or detention.
In only three weeks, immigrant rights groups and their allies were able to train for and equip a newly launched hotline to respond to reports from community members who call. Trainers were able to fill 24/hr, 7-day a week shifts with enough volunteers – over 100 – from across Colorado to take reports of raids, arrests, or other threats to the immigrant community and expect to have someone on the scene within minutes to be able to monitor civil and human rights violations, or any other violation of the law allegedly committed by ICE. “We have built this network in conjunction with all of our partners and allies here today to defend ourselves against civil rights abuses and a federal agency that has gone rogue,” said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the Immigrant Rights Coalition.
Since May 21, interested community members from the Western Slope, Summit County, Southern Colorado, Northern Colorado, and the Denver Metro area have undergone dispatch, observer, action, and legal training to respond to potential threats of unlawful activity on the part of ICE. Support for those arrested will also be available in case of arrests and separation of families. This is important says Sally Sharp who is a member of the Rapid Response Network from Pueblo because of the terror felt in the Pueblo community three weeks ago when it was rumored that an ICE raid was in process, “It spiraled out of control. What we’re doing here is implanting a team in Pueblo that will go out, and we will have a sure response for raids and people knocking on your door so that people won’t be afraid.” Sharp added that the rumor “spiraled out of control” and that those who were frightened, left their kids at school out of fear of family separation.
The Network was organized in response to increased activity by ICE as seen across the state. The Colorado People’s Alliance has taken reports of more violent activity by ICE than it has previously documented. In recent weeks ICE has been recorded dressed in plain clothing and entering courthouses, school grounds, and other public places to make arrests. The Network hopes to videotape, send this documentation to the American Civil Liberties Union, and to record ICE agents name and identification numbers.
Know Your Rights (KYR) training events in recent months have educated community members of their legal rights. These efforts have proven to be significant in structuring a strong legal case for those who are challenging their immigration cases. Those rights begin with remaining silent and not signing documents without speaking to an attorney, according to Network organizers.