A Quick Response Network for Potential ICE Detainees

Pro-immigrant groups protested President Trump’s executive orders in front of ICE offices in Newark, New Jersey, in January. (Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Now that ICE is able to knock on someone’s door and take away a person who has been involved in minor offenses such as driving under the influence – a violation considered reason for deportation – and even immigrants without legal issues may be arrested during a raid, some organizations want to do something before it happens, not after.

To do this, a rapid response network is being created in Newark for detentions not signed by an immigration judge.

The idea is to make a volunteer-staffed hotline available 24 hours a day to people who are paid a visit by an ICE agent to help them avoid panic, as well as being put in a deportation process if they are not criminals.

“If ICE arrives at your home, we will tell you not to open the door if they do not produce a document signed by a judge,” said organizer Jay Arena.

The initiative is part of a three-level strategy created by organizations Movement Socialism and Indivisible Newark.

“The second level is as follows: If ICE comes to your door, we will send a squad of volunteers to act as witnesses to observe, take pictures, video…” said Arena. “All this is meant to watch what ICE is doing, since they often fail to respect people’s rights.”

The third level, he went on, will be to organize people in the community to demand that ICE not deport the person who is innocent or has only committed minor offenses and who is not a danger to the community.

The hotline should be available in May, said the organizers.

In preparation for that, they held an information session to introduce the idea to local immigrants on Saturday, April 8, at 4 p.m. at 150 Lafayette St. in Newark.

On April 22, a day of training for the volunteers who will operate the rapid response hotline will be held at the same location.

“We are requesting volunteers in English and Spanish because we think that the Hispanic population is the most affected by the immigration measures,” said the activist.

For now, he said, a dozen white men and women have signed up who consider themselves allies of “undocumented” immigrants and wish to go beyond words and support them through effective action.

Organizers have said that no part of their funding comes from a religious or public organization and that the rapid response system will be sustained by volunteer work and donations from the public.

For the time being, organizers are saying that the capital they mostly need is the volunteer work of people willing to help their undocumented immigrant neighbors, and that expenses will be kept at a minimum.

According to immigrants living in Newark, like Ecuadorean-born Pedro Quispe, the initiative offers much-needed help.

“I don’t have immigration problems, but hundreds of my compatriots live with the fear of being deported without reason,” said Quispe, standing at the door of a bakery on Ferry Street. “As immigrants, we come here to work, not to commit crimes against this country that gives us an opportunity to earn a living and open up a better future for our children. I think this network is of great help. I hope they can make it a reality.”

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