Rural communities are in the middle of the immigration crisis

By Gladys Godinez, community organizer, Center for Rural Affairs

More than 600 people were detained on Aug. 7, 2019, in small rural towns in the state of Mississippi by Homeland Security Investigations (HMI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As was evident last month in Mississippi, resources such as interpreters and immigration attorneys are limited in rural communities when leaders respond to a raid. Community members and statewide resources become a vital partnership in responding to this type of humanitarian emergency.

The Center for Rural Affairs has worked with communities responding to raids and recently developed a resource to help rural efforts respond swiftly in the future.

The tip sheet, “Responding to Immigration Raids in Rural Communities” highlights constitutional rights of our undocumented neighbors and fellow citizens: You have the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. You have the right to request an attorney. Do not sign anything, until your attorney reviews it. Carry a Know Your Rights card, developed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Additional steps rural community leaders can take include: develop a local rapid response team; appoint a local point of contact; designate a central place for services; have an attorney draft a confidentiality agreement for all volunteers; and develop a fundraising plan in anticipation of immediate financial need. If a raid occurs, plan a press conference within the first 24 to 48 hours.

For more information or to see the tip sheet, please visit cfra.org/publications/RespondingToImmigrationRaids.

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