April 2, 2018

How are US undocumented immigrants battling a crackdown?

Civil liberties groups warn communities about dramatic rise in immigration arrests.

“We have rights.”

That’s the siren call of a new campaign in the US that gives undocumented immigrants common-sense advice on how to deal with immigration officers. The joint effort by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) follows a dramatic rise in the number of immigration arrests in 2017.

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump in January 2017 has given immigration officers greater latitude to detain undocumented immigrants, including individuals with no criminal record. Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went up 30 percent from the previous year, while the number of “non-criminal” arrests more than doubled. It’s heartening news for those who support Trump’s uncompromising stance on immigration, but chilling for those under the lens of ICE.

The 'We Have Rights' campaign follows complaints that ICE officers routinely overstep the bounds of their authority when attempting arrest, and in some cases have pushed into homes without a court-issued search warrant. Once arrested, individuals may face an arduous spell in a detention facility before they are brought before a judge - and non-criminals are among those held for long periods, rather than being released on their own recognisance. The Trump administration is also ending a policy exempting pregnant women from detention.

Meanwhile ICE is becoming ever-more sophisticated at gathering and analysing data connected to undocumented immigrants. The agency monitors social media profiles, tracks vehicles by cross-referencing their licence plate details with GPS co-ordinates, and even assesses biometric traits. The granularity with which ICE can track a person's whereabouts has left many undocumented immigrant communities fearful and exposed.

We'll discuss the dramatic rise in arrests, the treatment that undocumented immigrants often face from ICE, and how activism, technology and practical advice can provide support to affected communities.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Scott Hechinger @ScottHech
Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Policy, Brooklyn Defender Services

Khalil Cumberbatch @KhaCumberbatch
Associate Vice President of Policy, The Fortune Society

Linda Sarsour @lsarsour
Civil Rights Activist

Adrian Reyna @isaiasreyna
Notifica Co-Founder, United We Dream

Read more:
Trump takes 'shackles' off ICE, which is slapping them on immigrants who thought they were safe - Washington Post
Palantir provides the engine for Donald Trump's deportation machine - The Intercept

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