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Defending Immigrants

It's time for a new Civil Rights movement

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The recent ICE raids on our immigrant community in California should not be a surprise to anyone. Shortly after his election, Donald Trump promised to deport 2–3 million immigrants "immediately." His executive order in January spelled out his plans: a massive expansion of the deportation machinery now underway.

Here in the North Bay, Trump's plans would mean large numbers of immigrant families facing deportation or separation. Over 7,500 young people with DACA status would also be at risk. It would devastate our immigrant community, severely deplete our workforce and adversely affect us all. And let's be clear. Most of those deported under his plan would be guilty of nothing more than a misdemeanor or a violation of immigration regulations—the vast majority are not "bad hombres."

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s provides a good model for those of us who value our immigrant community. Protests and demonstrations like the DACA march earlier this month are important statements of community resolve. Political action is critical, too, especially during this fall's elections. Sanctuary declarations are important, but our immigrants need a defense when they are apprehended. With adequate help, almost any immigrant can fight their deportation in court. As during the Civil Rights movement, we should provide this vulnerable population the information and assistance to assert their legal rights. With training, much can be done by nonprofits and volunteers from the community.

If you can help, here are a few resources: To donate to a county fund to support immigrants' defense (sonomacountysecurefamilies.org/donate-now); to be part of a community response network (northbayop.org/rapidresponse); for some ideas on how to make an impact politically or humanizing the immigrant story, go to myamericandreams.org/get_involved.html.

Can we protect and defend our immigrant community in the Trump era? Let's remember the words of California's own Civil Rights leader, Cesar Chavez: Si, se puede! Yes, we can!

Christopher Kerosky is a member of the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission and an attorney who practices law in Santa Rosa.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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