Stop copying and pasting unverified reports about ICE raids. You may mean well, but you’re hurting immigrant communities. Do this instead.
If you’ve spent any time on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen people sharing information about places where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have been conducting raids or checkpoints. While the sentiment behind this — protecting undocumented immigrants from being snatched up and deported without due process — is awesome, the actual methods usually aren’t. A lot of misinformation is running around, and Desis Rising Up and Moving has put together a set of tips for sharing information about ICE activities responsibly.
Let’s face it, things have been confusing since Donald Trump took office, particularly since he signed an executive order to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to increase deportation efforts. However, ICE conducts these raids periodically anyway, and deportations under President Barack Obama were pretty constant. Some 235,000 to 400,000 people have been deported each year since 2008, according to ICE’s own statistics. Although ICE always claims that it focuses these enforcement efforts on people who have criminal convictions, 40 percent or more of those caught in these deportation dragnets had no criminal convictions.
DRUM notes that there are a variety of different types of law-enforcement activity that can lead to deportation. Unless you’re in a place that’s been designated a sanctuary city, local police may “engage in abusive policing that can put immigrants at risk of detentions and deportations,” they say. On top of that, ICE, Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security sometimes operate checkpoints where they target immigrants or will ask for immigration documentation. Other times, ICE may go looking to arrest a specific person who is in the country without documentation, but will arrest other undocumented folks in the same area in the process. And in “raids,” many ICE officers will swarm a neighborhood, workplace, event or public space and arrest large numbers of immigrants.
Here’s what to do:
If you witness an immigration raid, arrest or related activity:
- Take a picture or a video (but not of the people being targeted) while ensuring your safety and safety of others around you.
- Take note of the exact date, time & location.
- Take note of the type of law enforcement agency, vehicles and activities.
- Share on social media with the above details.
If a report is verified:
- Prioritize notifying directly affected people you who know in that area. Be prepared to provide emotional support.
- Connect people to organizations that they can join for community-based defense.
- Notify the Legal Aid Society hotline: 844-955-3425.
- Share appropriate Know Your Rights materials.
If it is not a first-hand report:
- Do not share it publicly on social media if it is not verified (i.e. not from someone who witnessed it).
- Reach out directly to organizations in the area who are trained to go out, document and verify the report.
- If you know directly affected people in the area, notify them to be aware of the possibility of ICE/CBP/DHS/police in the area. Clarify that the report is unverified. Be prepared to provide emotional support.
- If you see others sharing unverified reports, refer them to these guidelines.
How to support verification efforts:
- Directly share them so people know the original source of reports to trace, confirm, correct, or retract; and to minimize those intentionally spreading misinformation.
- Do not screenshot other people’s reports.
- Do not copy and paste reports.
When unverified reports are shared around, they can reduce the trust between immigrant communities, organizations and well-meaning bystanders, according to DRUM. It also amplifies people’s existing fears and traumas, and further isolates marginalized communities. It also spreads fear and paranoia in those communities, leaving them to skip work or school even if there’s no need. It also means that anti-raid efforts are deployed in the wrong places, reducing their effectiveness when it really matters.