How to Support Neighbors Targeted by Immigration Raids

Back in February, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff warned her city that an immigration raid was coming. It was the right thing to do.

“I know that Oakland is a city of law-abiding immigrants and families who deserve to live free from the constant threat of arrest and deportation,” Schaff wrote in a statement. “I believe it is my duty and moral obligation as Mayor to give those families fair warning when that threat appears imminent.”

Now, legislators want to punish Schaff and people like her. Iowa Representative Steve King proposed the ”Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018” on Monday, May 21.

The bill called for sanctuary city officials to face up to five years in prison if they interfere in Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions. 

People shouldn’t be penalized for trying to protect their communities. You too can stand with undocumented immigrants and their families. Here’s how you can support neighbors targeted by ICE.

1. Get Involved

Act before ICE knocks on your neighbors’ door. Plug into groups that are already doing the work, whether by donating resources or showing up to a demonstration.

Organizations like Immi help connect immigrants with attorneys they can afford for free. Mariposas Sin Fronteras watches out for LGBTQ immigrants in detention. Among other work, Border Angels educates people on issues faced by those who cross the Mexican-American border.

Don’t forget to contact your legislators as they consider immigration bills. Urge them to protect and strengthen sanctuary cities.

2. Get Educated

It’s hard for people to know their rights — especially undocumented immigrants who may not be familiar with the language or laws of their new communities.

The ACLU offers a helpful guide that breaks down what to do if immigration officials arrive. You can print out posters or order notecards with this info to post around your neighborhood.

3. Question Immigration Enforcement From All Angles

At the beginning of the year, ICE agents raided nearly 100 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country. Law professor César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández told CityLab that they aimed to intimidate migrants from going into work.

Out of fear that they’ll be punished, too, some employers and landlords have threatened immigrant workers with deportation. Even those here legally face potential employment discrimination, as businesses fear to hire foreign-born employees.

Immigration raids are a workers’ rights issue and a housing rights issue.

They’re also tangled up in privacy rights, racism and mass incarceration. Make sure to approach your advocacy holistically.

4. Stand Beside Families

The 2012 documentary “Band of Sisters” showed nuns who stood with families every week at the Illinois Broadview Detention Center as their loved ones got deported. They prayed and rode buses with them to the airport.

You probably don’t have this kind of access, but there are still ways to help.

The Center for Community Life in New York City has been working on a program that trains strangers to take in immigrants’ children if their parents get deported. It’s like foster care, but easier for the kids to return to their biological families once everything stabilizes.

5. Plan for the Moment

From witnessing an ICE arrest to accompanying a detainee to court, you can show solidarity with your immigrant neighbors. Across the country, rapid response networks train volunteers to do so.

Those who do intervene need to use caution. In that position, all you should do is take notes and video — don’t try to stop a deportation.

According to PRI, trainer Jesus Ruiz told volunteers in San Jose:

When you get out of the car, have your phone out already, and have your pencil or notepad out already. The last thing you want to do is be approaching ICE and reaching in the back pocket for your phone. Especially if you’re a person of color, we do not recommend that. We are not going to interfere with ICE because we are putting ourselves in danger of being arrested if we’re trying to push ICE away or barricade around an ICE mobile or something like that.

These rapid response networks also provide hotlines that families can call if ICE agents come knocking. Those numbers are good to share.

Photo Credit: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago


Chad A
Chad A7 months ago

Thank you.

Caitlin L
Caitlin L9 months ago

Thank you

Chrissie R
Chrissie R9 months ago

Thanks for posting

Janet B
Janet B9 months ago


Carol C
Carol C9 months ago

Many thanks for posting this helpful information and advice!

Edward Vaughn
Edward Vaughn9 months ago

You are an idiot!! Only immigrants are immigrants. I was born and raised here; I'm a Native American because of that, not an immigrant. War is not terrorism, it's war. THINK, imbeciles!!!

Winn A
Winn Adams9 months ago


Winn A
Winn Adams9 months ago


Kathy G
Kathy G9 months ago

Thank you