Carbondale community trains ICE rapid response team

By Jacob Lorenz, Staff Reporter

Shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a group of Carbondale community members met for the first time. What brought them together? The safety of immigrant parents and children in the area.

The Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project was formed in 2017 and has continued to meet once a month ever since.

Becca Tally, the chairperson of the SIIRP, said the project focuses on three aspects: educating the general public about immigration laws, directly helping people and advocating more humane and beneficial immigration policies. 

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“Sometimes, we end up working more in one area or another area, depending on what comes up,” Tally said. 

Currently, the project is training an  Immigration and Customs Enforcement rapid response team. 

At the latest meeting on Sept. 5, a representative from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights gave a presentation on how to inform immigrants of their rights if confronted by ICE. The presentation explained the current landscape of immigration laws at the state and federal levels. 

“Two years ago, today, we were holding a rally to protest when the president tried to rescind DACA,” Tally said. “Since then, through the courts, some of that has been protected, but it’s up in the air, again.”

Other topics discussed were how to talk to ICE agents, and what kind of emergency plan to have prepared. 

Tally said they’ve heard of reports of ICE in the area, but sometimes ICE raids are unverified. 

As of right now, the SIIRP hasn’t responded to any ICE raids. 

“You try to balance; you don’t want people to be fearful unnecessarily, but you want people to be vigilant,” Tally said.

There are three immigrant detention centers in Illinois, and one is an hour south from Carbondale. In Illinois, there is no private immigrant detention, so they are held in the county detention center. 

Tally said these families constantly live in anxiety; they don’t know if a traffic violation will be what puts them in the system. 

Dr. Kathryn Ward, a member of SIIRP and former SIU professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, said she’s very excited for the task force and a big supporter. 

“It’s really important to be able to have empathy and be an ally,” Ward said. 

Along with educating the public, the SIIRP has also helped parents complete legal guardianship documents. 

“We were worried about the children and how the deportations would impact them,” Ana Migone, a member of the SIIRP, said.

The first SIIRP meetings were designed to teach people who would be affected by immigration laws, their rights and how they could secure a guardianship for their children. 

“We had a number of families coming to those meetings,” Migone said. “We were successful in helping families getting their paperwork taken care of and looking at setting up a person with a guardian.” 

Migone also said none of the families have had to use the documents, but they have them ready. 

The SIIRP has helped people financially as well. The project has a fund to help people with education or legal fees. 

“Immigrants contribute to our country; that’s where the diversity of ideas leads to innovation and that’s what makes our country great,” Tally said. “Having this system where people have to live in the shadows because they don’t have a pathway is not good for anyone.” 

The SIIRP meets once a month in various locations around Carbondale. You can reach out to them on their website or Facebook group.

Staff reporter Jacob Lorenz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jtlorenz6.

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