Session IV: Organizing Locally to Resist Criminalization and Deportation
The current President came into office inheriting a system where 1 in 3 people will be arrested by the age of 23, where nearly 1 in 100 people are currently in jail or prison, and where a Black person is killed by law enforcement or a vigilante every 28 hours on average. […]
In order to effectively respond to these threats, Cities must both provide undocumented and other non-citizen residents effective protections and safeguards from immigration enforcement, while also reducing the over-policing and criminalization of immigrant communities, Black people, and other people of color, that leads to mass incarceration and deportation.
— Mijente, Crowdsourced Model Policy Guide
In this session, we’ll learn about some concrete steps that state and local governments can take to protect their people from the systems of mass criminalization and deportation. You’ll also have a chance to investigate where criminalization is showing up in your community and what steps you can take to effect change.
As in previous sessions, multiple readings and resources are spotlighted below. In order to save time during the session, larger groups can divide into pairs who each complete one of the readings and report back key take-aways to the larger group.
- LA Times, “California gang database plagued with errors, unsubstantiated entries, state auditor finds”
Gang databases are created with minimal public oversight, and people can be placed onto them without due process or even any way to know if they have been listed. The California gang database, for one, is so egregiously flawed that last year state auditors uncovered at least 42 instances of children less than one-year-old being placed onto the database. Yet these databases continue to inform law enforcement operations and ICE raids. In September, the House approved legislation that would make these failures of due process more extreme, subjecting even green card-holders to deportation if they appear on a gang database, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime.
Chicago police falsely identified Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas as a gang member. As a result, his application for DACA was denied and he was later placed into removal proceedings. Now he is fighting back against unfair gang databases in court. Ending or refusing to participate in these databases is one way cities can become more genuine sanctuaries and refuse to collaborate with mass deportation and mass criminalization. (10 min.)
- Love Resists, Model Policy Guide
Love Resists has put together a comprehensive guide to model policies that states and localities can implement now to reduce criminalization and expand sanctuary. This guide was extensively informed by Mijente’s Crowdsourced Model Policy Guide, among other sources, which includes model language used in ordinances by many different cities and counties. (20 min.)
Looking at the Love Resists Model Policy Guide, have each person select one policy recommendation of particular interest to them. Ask people to try to find out, by searching online, where their city, county, or state government currently stands on that recommendation. Has their local government implemented it? Are there any organizations or campaigns working locally to implement it? If you can’t find this information online, where might you look to find it, or whom might you contact?
Have each person report back to the group on what they find. (20 min.)
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
- Of the many local and state policy changes discussed in the readings for this session, which felt like the biggest “stretch” to you?
- What are some of the fears or concerns you have about those policies that makes them feel like a stretch?
- How do you think your personal background and experiences may have influenced these fears and concerns?
- What would you need to know in order to get behind these policy changes?
- Have your ideas changed at all as a result of working through this session? If so, in what way?
What Comes Next?
If your team is ready to take the next step on local efforts to resist criminalization, let’s do so together.
Sign up for the Love Resists campaign, if you have not done so already. On the Love Resists website, you can find tools for Starting Your Love Resists Team, including a sample worship service, a discussion guide for a first meeting, and pointers for effective partnership. You will also be alerted to upcoming webinar opportunities to develop your capacity as a member of the resistance.
You’ve deepened your understanding of what criminalization is and how it manifests in our society. Now is the time to join the movement to defeat it. To borrow a chant from the Dreamer movement, “We believe that we will win.”
Photo thanks to Rev. Amy Freedman, used with permission.