On Nov. 11, the Lansing Immigrant Defense group hosted a Rapid Response Training at the Foster Community Center to discuss actions to support immigrants and their families in the event of a deportation.
The training discussed direct action tactics, risk and safety assessment and an overview of how rapid response fits into the larger picture of immigrant support in Lansing.
In Lansing, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made no deportations. However, group members said they believe that ICE will begin to amp up their actions in the Lansing community over the next few months.
Heidi Thornley said she attended the training as an anxious member of the Lansing community looking to make a difference.
“I’m concerned about Lansing and the the neighbors in Lansing,” Thornley said. “The response (by ICE) that there really isn’t an emergency in Lansing is something to know about but also be aware that this may change.”
Lansing Immigrant Defense created an ICE crisis watch hotline to keep families together and prevent deportations. According to their pamphlet, the group believes “the purpose of Police and ICE agents is to carry out state violence” and they want to build community defense and resistance to ICE.
Members of the group discussed using human blockades and creating barriers to prevent ICE agents from carrying out any deportation activities.
Lansing Immigrant Defense was founded only a few months ago and doesn’t have a hierarchical structure but rather operates through horizontal leadership. Not all of the group’s members stand for tactics willing to disrupt the actions of law enforcement officials.
Laura Drotar, a senior zoology major attending MSU, said she is interested in becoming more proactive in assisting immigrant families during times of need.
“I wanted to learn more about how I can support immigrants and their families in times of crisis,” Drotar said.
Tom Jones, a pastor for the First Congregational Church of Charlotte, said he was impressed with the group and plans to become a more active member.
“I thought they were really well organized and I’ve been to a lot of demonstrations in Lansing and this group seems to be one of the best organized that I’ve seen in a long time,” Jones said.
Jones said he attended the meeting in an effort to learn more about some of the social justice groups in Lansing.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE holds many responsibilities. One of their more controversial duties involves the enforcement the nation’s immigration laws and ensuring the departure of undocumented immigrants from the country, according to their website.