As a nation, we are living through a very scary time. And while that may be the understatement of the century, there are particular demographics under attack right now.
As a person who works in educating students of color, whose parents may or may not be undocumented, as well as educating undocumented students, I have noticed a shift in their attitudes. I’ve seem some students become withdrawn, distracted, and overall nervous, all due to their fear that a land they called their “home” has been called something else within the White House.
After Trump’s ill-advised and half-baked executive orders, including attempting to defund sanctuary cities, ending the “catch and release” policy, increasing detention centers — which are now being described by experts as concentration camps — and of course, giving the green light for a wall between the US and Mexico, many communities are feeling unsafe, to say the least.
In order to protect our students, their families, and the many others who need allyship during these unsafe times, we need to take certain precautions. Here are five ways to support and protect undocumented folks in your community.
Check your language and behavior, along with the language and behavior of those around you
It is important to be very vigilant with the words you use when referring to the undocumented community. Words like “illegal” and “alien,” as well as generalizing immigrants as a specific ethnicity or race, are dangerous and irresponsible. We must use correct terminology, such as “undocumented” and “naturalized citizen,” in conversations. By doing so, we normalize these phrases, and in turn humanize these communities.
More Radical Reads: 13 Realities As An Undocumented Immigrant During Trump
Never out your undocumented friends, family, and coworkers
For those who are undocumented, the choice of being vocal or quiet about their status must be up to their discretion. Whether an individual decides to publicly display their undocumented status is a personal decision. Undocumented folks know the safety risks involved.
Outing anyone who has chosen to keep their status private can and will put them in danger. Even if your friend or peer is very vocal about their status, it is not up to you to do the same. Unless you are granted permission to voice their status, or this information is absolutely necessary in regard to their health and safety, keep that information to yourself.
Take it to the streets
Use your privilege(s) to stand up for your undocumented family, friends, and peers. Rally, march, and protest at the places that need the body count (such as these upcoming nationwide vigils on July 12th!). Call and write letters to your local and state representatives and tell them that their new immigration policies will not be tolerated. Donate and fund community enrichments and other foundations and movements.
At the very least, assert yourself and take action whenever you see any injustice being committed against undocumented folks.
If you are bilingual, help those who aren’t fluent in English. Read and translate any important documents or help them find a more official person to do this. Help provide transportation, housing, food, and/or job resources if you’re able.
Practice common courtesy and consideration for those living right next door to you.
More Radical Reads: 6 Ways to Love Yourself When You’re Undocumented in the U.S.A.
Tell undocumented folks you love them and they are heard
Please listen to your undocumented friends, family, and peers. Their testimonies alone will tell you what they need from you, from other communities, and if they just need some compassion.
For those of you who are educators, officials, or if you come in contact with a large undocumented population, it is critical to assert that there is hope, that these groups deserve basic human rights, and to reassure them that you will do everything in your power to create a safe space for them.
Allyship looks different for everyone, both for those who need it and for those offering their allyship. It is important to communicate with your loved ones who are undocumented and really find out what they need and what you can do for them. This issue affects all of us, undocumented and documented alike. Absolutely no one is ever illegal.
[Feature Image: A photo of two people standing outside. The person on the left is looking toward the upper left. They are holding a child who is wearing a dark hat and a dark blue shirt. Source: Peter M.]
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