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Community Network Helps Support Immigrant Families

April 12, 2018

By Ana Gomez Salcido

After four months of operation, the San Diego Rapid Response Network has been able to support at least 20 immigrant families in San Diego County with free legal services.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network is an interconnected system of organizations and individuals working together to respond to dehumanizing immigration enforcement activities, including checkpoints, raids, arrests, and harassment occurring in San Diego County.

The network operates a 24-hour hotline to document such occurrences, provide emergency assistance, and connect affected people with resources.

Since network operations began in December 19, they have received over 700 calls from the community. The main service requested is information on everything related to immigration resources, such as the steps to follow to get an immigration lawyer, the rights of an immigrant, and even information on how to find a lost family member.

“The network was created as a result of the work of several non-profit community organizations such as the Employee Rights Center. We have worked for many years over the imprisonment and deportation of immigrants. This cases started to increase when Bill Clinton was president, the cases then rise to unprecedented levels with President Barack Obama,” said Alor Calderon, director of the Employee Rights Center to La Prensa San Diego. “Since before President Donald Trump took office, we contacted two consultants to learn how to face an even worst situation. Trump not only talked about the deportation of immigrants, he focused on that.”

With the creation of this network, we not only have a 24-hour hotline, but we have also organized community forums in places like churches and schools, were the immigrant community can learn more about different situations they could face. They learn about their rights and about their immigration status.

Calderon said that when a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent visits a home, the people inside are not forced to open if the agent doesn’t have a judge’s warrant to raid the home.

“We have had a positive response with this network, this means that there is a need in the immigrant community in San Diego. Each hour of the day is not enough for all the work we have to get done, and our network needs to grow because the immigrant community has a big problem,” Calderon said.

“We want to grow and offer more services, not only in the legal branch but also in everything related to a deportation like the emotional and even economic side of the equation. A lot of the people that call or are going to call don’t have a solution to their immigration status, so we want to create an emergency family plan for them. They need to be prepared, so their family and children can be in a better situation,” Calderon continued.

The 24-hour hotline is open for everyone in the community and to all the families in the immigrant community. The number is 619-536-0823.

“A lot of people don’t know this network, the word is just starting to get out in the community. And a lot of the people that face a possible deportation don’t talk about this situation with a lawyer or even with family members. They face it like a family emergency,” Calderon said. “Our message to them is that they speak out, we are part of the community, we are nonprofits working together, we are schools and churches working together. They are not alone.”

The San Diego Rapid Response Network is also looking for volunteers. Anyone in the community interested in helping out can send an email to volunteercoordinator@sdop.net.

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