Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched “We Have Rights,” a national immigrant empowerment campaign to inform immigrant communities of what to do when interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The campaign centers around four animated videos available in seven languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Haitian Creole and Urdu. Created as a direct response to expressed community needs, the videos are based on true stories and provide practical tips for how to safely defend the legal and human rights of immigrants during four common encounters with ICE: when ICE is at the door, when ICE is inside homes, when ICE stops people in the street, and when ICE arrests immigrants.
The series was created with input from immigrant communities and legal experts and is voiced by an all-star cast of influencers and activists, including Jesse Williams (English), Diane Guerrero (Spanish), Kumail Nanjiani (Urdu), Linda Sarsour (Arabic), Edwidge Danticat (Haitian Creole), Katya Lee (Russian), and Xiren Wang (Mandarin).
“This campaign launches at a critical time for immigrant communities and our country,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services. “We hear from our clients daily about how scared they are and about their desire to know what do if and when ICE comes for them or a loved one,” added Scott Hechinger, senior staff attorney and policy director at BDS.
The Trump administration has increased ICE enforcement and removal operations in 2017 by 30 percent across the country, and included many people who previously were not likely to be targeted by ICE, such as people married to American citizens, young people and people who have never been convicted of a crime.
“The We Have Rights campaign aims to empower immigrants to protect themselves during ICE interactions,” said Natalie Montelongo, ACLU campaign strategist. “ICE has a disturbing history of crossing the line and we want immigrants to know that they are protected under the Constitution.”
The videos are accessible at wehaverights.us and aclu.org/we-have-rights. The campaign will be promoted across social media platforms and by national and local organizations focused on immigrant rights throughout the U.S. Among other resources, wehaverights.us will provide a downloadable emergency preparedness plan for immigrants to make sure their children and families are protected in the event they are unexpectedly removed by ICE.
In addition to providing information to affected communities, the campaign’s goal is to educate the public about the stark realities of increased ICE enforcement on individuals and families and to make ICE tactics more transparent.
“Immigrants are the lifeblood of America, and we need to ensure that our communities have the tools they need to effectively assert their rights. The Trump administration may be determined to deport as many people as they can, but immigrants have rights and we can all take steps to protect ourselves and each other,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Voice Artist Statements:
Jesse Williams: “It’s a terrifying and dangerous time to be among the more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States today. Making sure that everyone, including our immigrant family members, friends and neighbors are aware of their rights is critical to fulfilling our nation’s promise. I’m honored to be able to use my voice to help people live an informed, free and dignified existence. Immigrants are people.”
Diane Guerrero: “The We Have Rights campaign offers critical information about how to defend yourself as an immigrant in the U.S. when your basic rights are challenged. The campaign offers essential information and needed tools to help people and families prepare themselves to defend their rights.”
Edwidge Danticat: “I became involved in the We Have Rights campaign to ensure that members of the Haitian community throughout the United States have the tools they need to defend their rights when facing immigration officers. Sadly my own family members have had disastrous encounters with ICE. I hope these videos will empower those who might feel helpless in these types of situations and remind them that they too have rights.”
Linda Sarsour: “I’ve spent my life working to ensure my community has rights in America. I’ve accompanied people from my community to court, in immigration proceedings, and seen firsthand the many violations of the freedom on which this country is founded. I won’t stand for it, which is why I am doing this work.”
Katya Lee: “My hope is that this campaign, both the videos and the materials on the We Have Rights website, reaches affected communities across the country, helping to ensure that others have the opportunity to live freely and without fear in the U.S.”