By Geneva Peppars
On Feb. 21, the Department of Homeland Security released a memo concerning the executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S” which outlined many policies from the new Trump administration. The policies are meant to strengthen the execution of immigration laws in this country including hiring more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The actions taken by the Trump administration may lead to increased presence of U.S immigration enforcement in communities. This has led to a hot debate on the role of state and local law enforcement in matters of immigration.
On March 9, students packed into room 106 in the Harry Griffith Hall to learn about their rights and how to exercise them in the presence of both the police and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, also known as ICE. The American Civil Liberties Union’s “Know Your Rights” training was hosted by Jessica Carmona, an HSU student , accompanied by Grecia Rojas, the Interim Multicultural Center Coordinator, who acted as a translator.
The training discussed legal rights and how to properly document police and ICE interactions. It also debunked common myths regarding undocumented people’s rights, such as the notion that non-citizens don’t have rights.
Carmona said to the audience that counties can exercise their local power by not offering resources to ICE agents.
“We understand that we can’t tell the federal government what to do, but, for example, if they [Ice Agents] do come to our county jail, our county Sheriff can say they can’t even use a pencil,”Carmona said. “We do know we have the power locally to say they can’t use our resources.”
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on their stance on immigration enforcement in our community a few weeks after the Department of Homeland Security memo, on March 14. Sheriff Mike Downey said in the press release that he acknowledges the need of public safety for all of Humboldt’s residents and that he will be leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to federal agents.
“Enforcement of immigration laws is not the job of the Sheriff and my office does not and will not conduct proactive or reactive immigration enforcement duties in this community,” Sheriff Downey said. “My office would like to encourage the community to continue to report crimes and to seek protection and assistance from the Sheriff’s Office, regardless of their immigration status.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are many things to do within our rights to keep ourselves and our community members safe. If you are stopped by police and wish not to speak, you must vocalize your wish to not talk. If you are asked about your immigration status, you do not have to answer. If you witness an ICE raid, you can film from a safe distance to document the encounter and to keep the ICE agents accountable. There is an app called Mobile Justice- California, which you can use to record the police and it automatically uploads after you stop recording, to prevent it from being deleted. On the ACLU website, there are many resources that are easy to access and can be printed on little cards to keep in your wallet.
The information provided at the ACLU training was not intended as legal advice.If you are seeking legal advice pertaining to immigration, Centro del Pueblo will be holding their first legal clinic on April 8 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Eureka’s First Congressional Church.