These are tough times for sane and compassionate people. A Republican just won a seat in the House of Representatives despite (or, let’s face it, maybe because of) assaulting a reporter. Trump and his surrogates are digging themselves into a hole so deep it probably reaches Russia. So it’s helpful to remember that for every SB4 and Jeff Sessions, there’s a smart state law, a sensible sanctuary policy, and scores of good people working to uphold America’s values of freedom, openness and equality.
In addition to Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund’s supported organizations, which are fighting for the rights of DACA recipients, unaccompanied children, LGBT+ immigrants, and the entire immigrant community, here are five new and notable efforts of resistance happening nationwide.
1. Denver took many immigrants off ICE’s radar by making a simple change to a law. In the last few decades, tens of thousands of immigrants living legally in the U.S. (who are here on visas and green cards) have been deported for low-level offenses. The federal government tends to deport legal immigrants who commit crimes that carry a maximum sentence of 365 days, even if it’s a petty crime.
So with the stroke of a pen, Denver’s city council voted in May to change the maximum penalty for petty offenses to less than 365 days. This applies to crimes such as shoplifting, trespassing and simple assault but not to violent assaults or other serious misdemeanors.
This legal revision will help “keep families together by ensuring low-level offenses, like park curfew, are not a deportation tool,” Denver mayor Michael Hancock told the Washington Post. (The law change does not affect undocumented immigrants.)
2. A group of volunteers is supporting immigrants through their deportation hearings. Kudos again to Denver, home to the American Friends Service Committee. The grassroots group trains volunteers to accompany immigrants to their ICE check-ins and court hearings, documenting every interaction with the system. Volunteers also provide support to the immigrants and help find and pay for legal counsel.
Since the program started, 14 out of 15 of the assisted immigrants have avoided deportation, and many of those immigrants have returned the favor by becoming volunteers themselves.
3. California is devoting a hefty part of its budget to helping its immigrant residents. Governor Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal devotes an extra $15 million to providing legal services for immigrants facing deportation, bringing the total to $33 million. In addition, the budget gives $3 million to help unaccompanied minors and $15 million to the One California project, which helps Californian immigrants apply for DACA and naturalization. Plus, the recently passed California Values Act protects immigrants’ personal data and prevents local law agencies from using resources to enforce federal immigration law.
And that’s just at the state level. Cities are also stepping up to the plate. Los Angeles carved out $10 million and Sacramento $300,000 to support their undocumented immigrants.
4. An Austin, Texas organization is coordinating an underground network of sanctuary businesses. Grassroots Leadership contacted businesses that participated in Day Without Immigrants. Then it worked with attorneys to train the business owners in how to protect immigrant workers from raids, for example knowing when they can eject ICE agents from their premises and demand warrants before anyone is arrested.
5. Volunteers visited neighbors and stores to show support for Muslims, Arabs and immigrants. In the wake of Trump’s Muslim travel ban, volunteers with Jewish Voice for Peace went door to door in California’s Bay Area asking people to display signs saying “We stand with our Muslim, Arab and immigrant neighbors.”
Since then, the volunteers – who come from all faiths and age groups – have held monthly canvassing events. They say no volunteer has had a hostile experience, and many of them have been hugged and thanked.
In addition to the above, we’ve also recently highlighted several creative efforts to trump hate with love, such as a cross-border concert, the Love Glasses Revolution, and numerous arts projects, like this, this and this.