Thursday, Sept. 28, marked a great turnout for our Third Thursday Social Resistance Gathering with the Minnesota Resistance Coalition. With about 75 people packed into the beautiful Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, professor Kathy Moccio took the stage to moderate our expert panel: John Keller, Executive Director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota; Palo Tapia, Co-Founder of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles; Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of American-Islamic Relations; and Senator Patricia Torres Ray, DFL Representative for District 63.
Immigration is at the forefront of many Minnesotans' minds, as seen from the turnout, and it's difficult to stay up-to-date with the administration's latest attack on our refugee and immigrant residents. As each speaker took a turn to recount personal stories about the terror families are facing right now in Minnesota, it quickly became apparent that there’s a grave urgency to stand up and speak out. All four panelists left us with the same sentiment: The time is now to get involved. People's lives are changing, and it's not for the better.
Since President Trump’s inauguration in January, his administration has established three Muslim bans, signed multiple executive orders against immigration, increased border control security, and has made steps toward ending DACA. These circumstances alone have led to a very different way of life for immigrants—and it doesn’t appear that things will improve soon.
Only 35 miles up the road, Sherburne County Jail is the home of the largest immigration detention center in the state of Minnesota. And, to make matters worse, the county has signed a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of their money-making initiatives in 2018. Before President Trump came into office, Sherburne County Jail was holding less than 120 people in their immigration detention center at any given time. Now there are over 250 detainees and the jail has plans to fill it with even more in the near future. Cells are getting bunk beds, buildings are being expanded, and Sherburne County inmates are being shipped to other county facilities to make more room for ICE detainees.
What’s happening is Sherburne County isn’t just. It’s not normal. And the time to step up and speak out is right now.
Your immigrant neighbors need your help. Step up and speak out. Here are a few things you can do today to help:
Give to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. The simple mission: End the practice of cash bonds in the criminal justice system, has added an ICE detainee pilot program to help immigrants get out of our Minnesota detention centers and have a chance at defending their immigration case. The goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of the year.
Call your local representatives. Voice your concerns as a constituent and encourage others around you to do so as well. Hold calling parties to get your community involved. Find out what your reps are working on to protect immigrants and demand they work to pass it.
Fill the airwaves with positive conversations. Don’t fail to say something. Your conversation and your voice is the most powerful thing we have. Whether it be in social media, writing an op-ed in your hometown newspaper, or leaving positive comments on an online immigration news story.
Continue to listen to other’s opinions. There are people out there who are not as informed.Take the time to listen, find common ground and educate others on the benefits of immigration.
Continue to educate yourself about immigration. Know and understand Trump administration policies when it comes to immigration, his executive orders, the end of DACA, and the Muslim ban. The more you know, the better teacher you’ll be to others.