SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Just four days after President Donald Trump tweeted that “next week ICE will begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens,” news broke Friday that ICE will conduct raids in a number of large cities on Sunday.
Santa Barbara non-profits that advocate for immigrant rights have been ramping up their efforts ahead of the weekend raids, stressing the importance of knowing your rights and the resources available.
Immigration officials say the raids will not be random, instead focusing on people who've ignored final deportation orders.
Federal agents plan to target about 140 people in Southern California, there’s no word on whether that impacts Santa Barbara or neighboring areas. Cities include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, and New York.
Frank Rodriguez spells out one of many resources he’s urging immigrant families to remember. You can sign up to receive alerts about ICE operations in the area by texting “ALERTA” to 24587.
“How do we humanize the situation and really protect the people that are our fathers, mothers, our brothers and sisters here in our community,” said Frank Rodriguez, Cause Policy and Communications Associate.
The Policy and Communications Associate for Cause highlights the groups' participation in the Southern California Chapter of the Rapid Response Network.
“You don’t have to let officials in your home unless they present a warrant that specifically has your name on it and is signed by a judge,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says as the migrant community is attacked, they want to empower and avoid panic.
“Being empowered means being prepared to know how to interact with local law enforcement and also with ICE agents, which is basically people knowing that they have the right to remain silent and they have the right to ask for an attorney,” said Rodriguez.
Board members with the Immigrant Legal Defense Center say a lot of times people get deported because they don’t have legal counsel.
“We believe that everybody deserves representation regardless of where they come from and if people need help they can feel free to call the immigration legal defense center,” said Alejandra Melgoza, Immigrant Legal Defense Center Board Member.
As concerns grew this week, Melgoza says the deportation defense organization has been busier than normal.
“We have a new Executive Director her name is Luisa Peña and she is ready to receive calls and connect people with pro bono attorneys,” said Melgoza.
For Rodriguez, the raids hit a chord with the entire community regardless of immigration status.
“These threats have been happening, this is not the first time it’s happened and we just want people to make sure that they take on the day with calmness knowing that they know their rights and they know where to go to find direction,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez points to 805 Immigrant as a good resource. You can call them directly at 805-870-8855.
For free legal advice, you can call Centro De Defensa Legal Al Immigrant at 805-886-9136.