Local groups start rapid response hotline for support after ICE raids

07/20/2017

Two community groups have collaborated to create a rapid response phone line designed to notify West Marin residents of local Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity and provide immediate support to families in the event of a raid. The Immigration Action Committee of West Marin Standing Together has linked up with West Marin Community Services to establish a hotline where callers can confidentially report the presence of ICE officers. Dispatchers will deploy a team of volunteers to confirm the validity of reports and, if an incident has occurred, activate an immediate assistance group to provide the affected family with short-term support, such as referring them to legal help, providing transportation and caring for children of detained parents. Eleanore Despina, who helps lead the immigration committee, said the hotline will work to dispel futile rumors, such as occurred in Point Reyes Station a few months ago: “One day someone was at my house and she got a text message that there was ICE action in front of the Palace Market,” Ms. Despina said. “This was going around like wildfire, and I said, ‘I’m going down.’ When I arrived, there was nothing. It turned out to be false, either a malicious rumor or a misapprehension on somebody’s part. If people call into this hotline instead of texting neighbors, we can avoid panic and have accurate information.” She said West Marin Standing Together was aware of other rapid response lines, and the incident encouraged them to create their own. She joined with Socorro Romo, program director for Community Services to spearhead the effort and looked at models in San Mateo and San Francisco for guidance. “This rapid response team is more for being supportive than being watchful,” Ms. Romo said. The team has about 30 bilingual volunteers who are ready to help verify rumors, document incidents and look for abuses if someone has been detained. Jorge Martinez, who works at Community Services and the Palace Market, is working as a part-time dispatcher. Ms. Romo said that the last ICE activity she knew of in West Marin occurred two years ago, when a person with a warrant was apprehended. Compared to last year, ICE arrests have increased 38 percent nationwide in the first three months of the Trump administration. The rapid response number is (415) 320.4826