Latino immigrant rights groups say they are gearing up for the "fight of their lives" that may include civil disobedience during nationwide rallies planned the week before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
United We Dream, CASA, Center for Community Change, Voces de la Frontera have teamed up with the SEIU, Planned Parenthood the Human Right Campaign to organize a national day of protests and activities around immigrant and refugee rights on January 14. There are 45 planned events in nearly 20 states across the country, and the largest demonstration will be at Washington DC's historic Metropolitan AME Church.
"There is no question for anyone in the immigration rights movement that we will not have to use every tool in our arsenal," said Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change. "Is civil disobedience on the menu for what we will engage in? Eventually, it is unfortunately, likely."
The organizers are calling for protections for immigrants and refugees of all racial and ethnic groups. The rallies will focus on immigration rights, but other groups involved with climate justice, reproductive rights and workers' rights are involved with planning the activities and participating.
“On January 14, we want every senator and every member of Congress to see us and to hear our words, and we want President-elect Trump to understand the might, the resiliency and the power of our immigrant families and the immigrant rights movement,” Matos said.
The movement calls for respect for the civil rights of young immigrants and those who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, as well as immigrant families, refugees at risk of being deported to violent places and Muslims.
“President-elect Donald Trump’s mass deportation plan to separate family and loved ones has generated fear throughout the immigrant community, but we will not hide in the shadows," said Cristina Jimenez, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream, a group that advocates for young immigrants.
At rallies across the U.S., protesters plan to call for more sanctuary areas at religious centers, municipalities and counties; these would be places the authorities do not scout out and report non-violent undocumented people to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We’ll lift the voices of immigrant and refugee leaders of all backgrounds and affirm our shared values around unity, love, resistance, defense and sanctuary," Matos said. "We’ll not only pronounce our shared commitment to protect and defend immigrant families from attack — but we’ll also launch our movement’s demands of this new administration, which include respect for the civil rights and dignity for the recipients of DACA, for undocumented immigrant families, for refugees at risk and for Muslim families.”