On March 9, 2017, ICE came to Harrisburg. Raids were reported in the largely minority Allison Hill neighborhood, so a training by PICC and Juntos on “Deportation Defense” took on even more importance.
The event, in the International Service Center at Market Square Presbyterian Church, attracted a diverse crowd. Members represented several races and groups and came from as far as Pittsburgh.
The presentation began with a look at the current raids, and what can be done to stop them. The simple question of “Do you have a warrant?,” seems to go a long way. The idea of making immigrants, etc out to be criminals, and the need to build community resistance through education were also topics.
The presence of ICE agents in courts, and handling checkpoints on the roads, brought the collaborations between police and ICE into some focus.
After a lunch of Chinese food, the second half of the training, focused on the actual defense, began. This was a three-pronged approach beginning with a plan for deportation. The next, and main component, was having a “Defense Packet” at the ready. This packet, consisting of documents like pay stubs, passports, and other records and information, would be useful should deportation proceedings begin. A final component is a temporary guardianship for minor children.
I came to this event in a panic over hearing that ICE had come to Harrisburg. I left the event with ideas on how I can perhaps join with other activists to resist. One idea would be to educate people on what their rights are. A second is to assist people in creating their “Defense Packets”. The final, and most, radical option may be to make Harrisburg a “station city” in a modern “Underground Railroad”.