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Communities mobilize against threat of immigration raids

My dreams are not illegal sign
Photo: Citlaly Mora / AFSC

AFSC decries ‘cynical move’ to ramp up detention before budget showdown

WASHINGTON, DC (September 8, 2017) Immigrant rights organizations and communities across the country are preparing for nationwide immigration raids that were made public Thursday and then supposedly delayed due to hurricanes Irma and Harvey. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for 100 years – condemned the raids and began taking immediate steps to mitigate their potential harm.

“These planned raids are just the latest outrage in a series of egregious attacks against immigrants in the U.S.,” said Nicole Miller, Legal Services Director in AFSC’s Newark office. “Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said the coordinated raids are not moving forward for now, we have already seen increased enforcement throughout the U.S. and are anticipating and preparing for even more enforcement actions in the coming months. Raid threats and anti-immigrant policies are sowing fear and uncertainty and tearing apart families and communities.”

This news came just days after thousands of people took to the streets to protest the president’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and in the wake of threats to Temporary Protected Status (TPS). It also comes at a time when the administration is requesting a massive increase in spending on detention, deportation, and border militarization.

“These raids were scheduled for the end of September, right as the debate over funding for the next year is heating up, and were cancelled just as the funding deadline was extended to December,” said Kathryn Johnson, AFSC’s Policy Impact Coordinator. “We believe that this could be a cynical move by the Trump administration to overfill detention centers in an effort to justify further detention spending.”

AFSC has worked for years to stop detention and deportation, and to institute just and humane immigration policies. The organization also works with communities on the ground to mitigate existing harms. When news of the raids leaked, AFSC programs in Denver, Oakland, Newark, San Diego, Greensboro, and across the country intensified their efforts and prepared to respond.

“In San Diego we are working with our partners to build-up our rapid response network to help people document immigration raids, and support affected community members” said Pedro Rios, AFSC’s San Diego Program Director. “We are also providing know-your-rights training and information, advocating so that our local officials take a stand against anti-immigrant policies, and doing whatever we can to provide sanctuary and safety for those facing threats.”

In addition to local action, AFSC is pressuring members of congress to speak out against the raids, and to vote against any additional funding for immigration enforcement. “We are demanding that our elected officials say no to these and all raids, no to additional funding for immigration enforcement and detention, and no to investment in fear and despair,” said Gabriela Flora, a Program Director in AFSC’s Colorado office. “We will do whatever we can to defend our communities, defend human rights, and work towards a world where everyone has an opportunity to grow and thrive.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.