Know Your Rights handout, training empowers Mission residents
Staff and managers of Mission Housing and Caritas Management attend training to help citizens and non-citizens defend themselves against constitutional violations during ICE raids. Photo by Tony Bear!
Know Your Rights brochure distributed to Mission Housing residents, others; Mission Housing staffers conduct educational forums
Since January, 2017, U. S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents have conducted raids on immigrant communities in the Bay Area and around the country. Some raids have disrupted the families and households of citizens and non-citizens alike.
“Ever since ICE agents visited one of our complexes in January, we felt it was important to let our residents and neighbors know their rights,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation. “Everyone has certain basic constitutional rights, regardless of their citizenship status or the political climate. One of those rights is that a home is a sanctuary.”
Private property reminder
“Notice to Authorities” can be seen at the entrances of Mission Housing developments.
In the days following the ICE visit, Moss directed a “Notice to Authorities” be placed on the entrances of Mission Housing developments. The notice, crafted by attorneys, notifies law enforcement that no one on-site at a particular building has legal authority to validate warrants or other legal access documents. The notice advises that access to Mission Housing buildings requires a valid and executed search warrant, presented at the corporate headquarters, to the Executive Director, and only when he has legal counsel present.
Community outreach about constitutional protections
To help residents and neighbors of its apartment communities navigate encounters with law enforcement, Mission Housing has put a special outreach program in motion. Coordinated by Marcía Contreras, Mission Housing Director of Operations and Resident Services, the two-pronged approach was crafted with the help of legal professionals, and trained immigration practitioners from La Raza Centro Legal.
First, Vicky Castro, Executive Director of La Raza Centro Legal, trained the staff and managers of Mission Housing and Caritas Management on how citizens and non-citizens should defend themselves against constitutional violations during ICE raids.
San Francisco Immigrant Legal Education Network, also known as SFILEN, provided additional training to Mission Housing Resident Services team members (Chirag Bhakta, Aaron Bustamante, Veronica Green and Contreras) on the Rapid Response Network and steps to protect Mission District residents.
Armed with this knowledge, Mission Housing staffers are conducting Know Your Rights educational forums in the organization’s residential community rooms. The forums are open to anyone who wants to learn how to help protect the rights of San Franciscans anywhere.
Information at your fingertips
Second, Mission Housing created a tri-fold pamphlet, “Know Your Rights – What to do When Immigration Agents Arrive at Your Door.” The brochure details steps to take when immigration agents or other law enforcement go to a home. Sections of the publication include “If ICE Comes to Your Door,” and “Arrest Warrant Basics.” There is a list of community resources where legal aid or advice is available.
Mission Housing staff is also distributing a “Know Your Rights” card, which carries info about how to assert one’s constitutional rights.
Staff is also distributing a “Know Your Rights” card. The red card carries information about how to assert constitutional rights. And, the card includes a scripted explanation for quoting to ICE agents.
The forums and the materials are free of charge.
Keeping families stabilized
Mission Housing has also set aside $40,000 to establish the Mission Housing Family Stabilization Fund.
The fund will support Mission Housing families, and any member of the Mission community negatively affected by detention, deportation, ICE raids or other anti-immigrant actions. Examples of support would include but not be limited to assisting with rent payments and groceries if the “bread winner” of the family is detained. An application for assistance from the fund is being prepared, and will soon be available on the Mission Housing website, and at the management offices of Mission Housing properties.
“Keeping our families stabilized is always Job #1 at Mission Housing,” said Moss.
“Our community will pull through these troubling times only by coming together. Mission Housing will, by any means necessary, protect the rights of our residents and our neighbors.”
Know Your Rights brochure – English [PDF]
Know Your Rights brochure – Spanish [PDF]
Know Your Rights brochure – Chinese [PDF]
Notice to Authorities poster [PDF]