Home Opinions San Martians step up to protect undocumented neighbors

San Martians step up to protect undocumented neighbors

Illustration of ICE searching for an immigrant family
Illustration by: Haley Prieto | Staff Illustrator

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, popularly known as ICE, has allegedly arrived in San Marcos after weeks of terrorizing immigrants in Austin. Within a matter of days, the community has come together to protect fellow San Martians—documented or not.

As an immigrant, I cannot say I understand the anti-immigrant sentiment that always seems to be married to nationalistic views. The majority of immigrants I have met throughout my fifteen years in America love this country more than most Americans I know.

They come here to find better lives at the expense of being considered outsiders, and still appreciate every ounce of opportunity this country gives them. Together, immigrants and natural-born citizens work to make this the best nation it can be.

However, President Donald Trump and his supporters think otherwise. The president may very well be on his way to surpassing former President Obama as the “Deporter in Chief.” Obama deported more people than any other president in history.

In early February, rumors started swirling that ICE made its way to Austin. Soon thereafter, rumors were confirmed as ICE began making detentions and doing what it does best—splitting up innocent families.

Usually immigration officers only target individuals with criminal records, however, the raids throughout the Austin area mainly targeted non-criminal immigrants. According to the Austin-American Statesman, a February raid swept up 51 people including 28 individuals with absolutely no criminal record.

Now that ICE has been spotted in San Marcos, our neighbors are scared. Many undocumented immigrants who reside here have no criminal histories and have been living in our community for much longer than most college students have been alive.

The danger of being displaced from the only place you know as home is absolutely terrifying, and the lack of empathy from some people is asinine.

Thankfully, activists and lawyers have already started mobilizing around town. On March 4, Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos hosted a meeting with free immigration information. They provided them with legal connections and tips on what to do when confronted by ICE.

During a house raid, immigrants are advised to not open the door and instead ask officers to slide a search warrant under the door. Without a warrant, they are not permitted to continue their raid unless they are allowed in.

If confronted on the street, it is important people do not run from officers. However, it is perfectly fine to remain silent when questioned. Individuals are advised to not consent to officers searching their cars and are encouraged to write down the officer’s name and badge number.

It is extremely important for people to know their rights when being detained, and although these tips are unfortunately not enough to stop mass deportation, it allows immigrants the chance to have a little more control during a raid.

The real fight against ICE is ultimately up to allies who have a lot less to lose. Right now, there are plenty of opportunities to help our undocumented neighbors, and I encourage everyone to sacrifice a little bit of their time to help.

– May Olvera is a journalism junior