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US college lets students train how to document immigration raids

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

A public university in California is giving its students a chance to stand up for immigrant rights. Unlike the usual street protests, the approach appears more proactive, focused and arguably, more effective even.

Sonoma State University has organised an event for students to receive a “legal observer training” where they will be taught how to “document immigration raids” happening in their neighbourhoods, according to a Facebook event description.

Scheduled to take place on December 7, the event will be run by the Sonoma Country Rapid Response Network, an external organisation with expertise on filming immigration raids.

But why document and how does this help immigrants with their immigration tussles?

According to the event description, the raids are documented “so that civil rights violations can be used to build a case against deportation, keeping families together, and protecting our neighbors”

“We are working to create a way for people to respond to fear and anxiety in our community as a result of the increase in immigration enforcement, ICE raids, and other attacks against our communities,” the The Sonoma County Rapid Response Network explains on its website.

“We need to build teams of people in each and every part of Sonoma County who can respond day and night.”

The group also has a hotline where Sonoma residents can report US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity, so that such information can be shared to “protect your community from detention and deportation.”

Immigration raids have been on the rise lately since Donald Trump was elected to the White House (on his campaign, he had promised tough immigration enforcement and has kept to his promise) – an internal memo seen by Reuters earlier this year sought to raid and deport teenage immigrants who have entered the country as children without guardians and have since turned 18.

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