On March 2, teachers, businesspeople, faith groups, and other immigrant allies packed the South Mountain Community College Library conference room to brainstorm ways to support Arizona’s immigrant community.
“It’s beautiful to look around the room and see all the support,” said one speaker, Rodrigo. “I am undocumented, and it just feels awesome to have you all in the room.”
They were there to learn strategies for supporting DACA-mented and undocumented individuals in their schools, businesses and communities. The training was hosted by Aliento, an immigrant-led organization that creates community healing through art and advocacy. Many people formed action groups and left with several practical solutions.
Here are 20 ideas that emerged from the training and actions you can take:
Help DACA-mented individuals get free legal advice. The Arizona Legal Center has teamed up with organizations including the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to offer free legal advice on DACA issues. Anyone who is concerned about DACA ending and wants to discuss legal options with attorneys or learn about visa options can get a free consult on March 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Arizona Legal Center (111 E. Taylor St., Phoenix, 480-727-0127).
Don’t allow SROs (school resource officers) on campuses. There have been incidents in the past when SROs – sworn law-enforcement officers who patrol public schools – have asked about students’ immigration status. Activists are concerned this could become more prevalent in the current political climate. Some states are trying to pass laws that would force schools to cooperate with immigration enforcement officers. To keep their students safe, some schools have banned SROs.
Don’t allow ICE on campus or give students’ information to ICE. Federal law prohibits schools from sharing students’ information, and ICE has stated that it does not carry out enforcement on campuses. However, there have been instances when schools illegally required social security numbers from registering students. So it’s wise to inform staff of ways they may be inadvertently making their students vulnerable and to instruct them what to do if ICE were to contact them.
University police should be instructed to accept school ID as a legitimate form of identification. Police should not ask for a driver’s license when a student is reporting a crime, for example.
University or college forms should avoid asking students for their social security number whenever possible.
Form rapid response teams. Mobilize friends, coworkers and other allies ahead of time. Outline strategies for what to do if ICE attempts to deport someone in your school, workplace or community.
Download the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app here. This will allow you to film an act of law enforcement injustice on your phone and send the footage directly to the ACLU through the cloud.
Get trained. DREAMzone, based at Arizona State University, provides training and resources for student leaders, staff, faculty, and community members so they can create inclusive environments and respond to the needs of undocumented students. If you complete the two- to four-hour training, you’ll receive a placard that you can place in your office to let students know you are an ally.
Expand on sensitivity training already taking place at schools and businesses. For example, if your organization trains staff to be sensitive to LGBT individuals and issues, this could be expanded to include training in how to support the DACA-mented and undocumented. People who go through the training could get a certificate or sign that lets students/employees know they’re safe talking to you.
Teachers can make their classrooms and offices safe spaces for discussing issues that concern students impacted by immigration laws. Studies have shown that ignoring immigration or race issues out of fear or in an attempt to treat everyone equally can actually lead to bullying and feelings of isolation among students. Only by proactively celebrating diversity in the classroom and encouraging open, confidential communication in private can students feel safe and valued. Let students or employees know you are an ally, whether that’s verbally or by putting up a sign or message that lets them know they are safe telling their stories.
Learn about the rights of undocumented or DACA-mented K-12 students here.
Give students resources that will help put them on the path to succeeding in college. One DREAMer-led organization, ALAS (Academic and Leadership Accelerator for Service), prepares first-generation students from low-income areas for college, meaningful careers, and a life of service in their communities.
Help DACA-mented students find scholarship opportunities by directing them to the DREAMers roadmap app.
Donate to scholarship funds for undocumented and DACA-mented students here. Also, advocate for the creation of new scholarships.
Schools can design ways to connect students and their families to resources such as lawyers, healthcare, and scholarships. Many parents don’t go to school meetings – often because they are afraid, lack ID, or are working multiple jobs – so kids need to be provided with information they can also give to their parents.
At your school or business, announce that you will do everything you can to support the DACA-mented and undocumented and keep them safe. Create a formal pledge of support, and send it to other school districts.
Take Aliento’s pledge to be an ally to the undocumented and DACA-mented here.
Religious organizations can educate their non-immigrant members about the immigrant experience, and inform their immigrant members about their civil rights. Churches, temples, mosques, etc. can offer sanctuary to the undocumented. Shadow Rock Church in Phoenix and Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, for example, have offered sanctuary for years.
Call and visit your representatives. In Arizona, Stand for Sane Government and Democrats in District 28 regularly pressure their representatives to pass good legislation and reject harmful bills. On #McCainMondays and #FlakeFridays, they’re calling and/or showing up at 12 p.m. outside the offices of Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, on the corner of 22nd St. and Camelback Road in Phoenix. Can’t make it in person? Call them: McCain: 202-224-2235 or 602-952-2410. Flake: 202-224-4521 or 602-840-1891.
Listen to undocumented and DACA-mented individuals. Students are currently very concerned about their parents and other family members being deported. They’re stressed and struggling to focus on studying under these conditions. It sounds simple, but understanding and unity begins with listening and empathy.