Are you enraged and horrified by the torture of children on the border? Do you want to take action and stop this cruelty? You can.

It doesn’t matter that you have never done this before, live in a small town, are not “an activist” or don’t know a million people! People all over the country want to act NOW and aren’t always sure what to do. Use this to take action that feels possible. These actions can be organized in a day or two - you don’t need a lifetime of organizing or activism experience - you can do this and PEOPLE WILL WANT JOIN YOU!

Taking action doesn’t always have to feel confrontational or aggressive to be disruptive and effective. In fact, using our personal stories creatively can be more powerful for the people taking action—and for those who will see it. We were inspired by our friends in Tucson, Arizona doing this amazing action and this “nurse-in” at the federal plaza in New Jersey—you can do this too!

How to Plan a Local Event

  • Gather any people you know who want to plan an event with you. If it is your sister and your mom, that’s fine! If it’s just you, that will do. If you can find a few friends, awesome.

 

  • Choose a location for your event, by considering who you want to reach.

 

  • Do you want to raise awareness among other individuals in your community? Choose a place where a lot of people will see you.
  • Do you want to pressure an elected official? Can you get to their office building?
  • You can pick from ICE Field Offices, detention centers and Congressional Offices. Let us know if you need help determining the best choice for you and your team. Think of a place where you might have maximum impact - is there a Member of Congress who supports Trump’s immigration policy? Is there a detention center or ICE office in your community?
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure if you’re going to an office where people have to go for hearings, citizenship and other immigration issues that your presence will not interfere or harm immigrants who may be dealing with very sensitive issues in that office. If you have questions, you can email us at media@immigrantjusticenow.org or check with a local advocacy group familiar with the office. If you’re not sure, err on the side of making sure you do no harm.

 

  • Choose when you want to hold your event:

 

  • It should be at a time when the people who you want to reach will be present
  • Give yourself enough time to spread the word if you want others to come out
  • Choose a date that works for you and your group - you can do this as part of the Dec. 1 - 2 Weekend of Action, or sooner! (If you want to act sooner, you can. We organized an action in New York City in just two days!)

  • Decide what form you want your event to take. A rally? A march? A vigil? A kid-friendly playdate protest? Do what is comfortable for you!

If you do need a permit, search on the internet for local regulations

  • Invite People to Participate
  • Make a Facebook event for your action, and share on your personal social media and any groups or pages you are part of.
  • List your event on immigrantjusticenow.org and/or on the playdate map.
  • Continue to invite everyone you know. Just telling people about it makes a difference: tell your religious community, the parents at your kids school, your sports league, your Zumba class, your barista, your Uber driver, anyone who will listen

  • Plan your visuals and audio
  • Visually, do you want Signs? Banners? Candles? Teddy Bears? Kids Shoes? Kids Art? Can you collect these from your community? Can you print signs off the internet? Need to gather funds? (Costs should not be too high; you can use cardboard and a marker!)
  • For sound, can you invite musicians? Print Chant lists for participants? Invite speakers or hold a speak-out where anyone can make short statements.
  • Do you want to bring a bull-horn or other portable sound system? Can you borrow or rent one?

  • Invite the press
  • See this link on how to make a press release and use one.
  • Send the media advisory to local media outlets 48 and 24 hours before the event.
  • The day before the event, call your local media outlets, introduce yourself, and ask if they received your media advisory and are going to cover your action. If they didn’t receive it, confirm the address and resend immediately.
  • Continue to promote on social media and in your life.

  • Get ready to speak to reporters.
  • Choose a few people who can be media spokespeople-- it’s great to lift up the voices of those who are directly impacted and have long histories of dealing with these issues
  • Choose one person who will connect with reporters and bring them to the spokespeople
  • In preparing to speak, the most important thing here is speaking from your heart: what brings you here? Why is this important to you? What kind of action do you want to see? Practice what you’ll say a few times. It can be helpful to use the PREP framework:
  • Point: I am here in the ICE office with my child to protest the wrongful detention of parents and children
  • Reason:  As a parent, I know it’s essential for children to feel safe and secure in their home and care.
  • Example: I know that when my child gets seperated from me for three hours….
  • Point: I think it’s really essential that families get to stay together not in detention but in community.

  • If you are asked a question that takes you off the message you want to put out, like, “But isn’t MS13 a bad bunch of people?” or “So what do you think about the role of Trump’s tax bill?” feel free to reframe by simply answering: “I am here today because...

  • On the day of your action, be sure to arrive early, bring your visuals, and take lots of pictures. Use your list of chants !
  • If you are asked a question that takes you off the message you want to put out, like, “But isn’t MS13 a bad bunch of people?” or “So what do you think about the role of Trump’s tax bill?” feel free to reframe by simply answering: “I am here today because...

  • Share what you are doing!
  • You can include more people by streaming via Facebook live 
  • Designate someone to take pictures and post on social media
  • Tag @ImmJusticeNOW
  • Use hashtags to help your posts be seen: #FamilesBelongTogether #FreeOurFuture  #AbolishICE #SanctuaryHomes #EndFamilyDetention
  • Sample share/tweet language: Everyone deserves to find play and joy. Everyone belongs here. #AbolishICE #EndFamilyDetention #EndFamilySeparation

 

 

  • Report back and keep organizing:
  • Share your videos with media@immigrantjusticenow.org, and on your social media  After your media has been uploaded, take a breath, and celebrate with your team. Be sure to thank everyone who helped, and plan a follow-up meeting as soon as you can. Assess what went well, where you could have improved, and start planning your next steps

From Hand in Hand:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What do I need to know/ how do I prepare for all scenarios?
  1. Try to have a member of your group go and scope out the office in the days leading up to your action. Look for likely spaces to gather, where good photos can be taken, how many barriers there are to the office, good meeting spots nearby, etc.
  2. For some offices you can try to get an appointment in advance. Even if the appointment is only for a couple of people, a great action is to bring *everyone* and then refuse to leave until they decide to act to protect families. (And until they make clear if you don’t leave you could get arrested)

  1. What if we aren’t let in the office or building?
  1. If you are blocked from the office you can set up in the hallway, lobby or in front of the building. Bring things that take up space—pack and plays, strollers, etc. Here’s some information about your right to protest from the ACLU.
  2. Set up shop in the hall! Find a space nearby and use Twitter to contact the person whose office you’re not allowed into. Have others do the same.

  1. How do long we stay?
  1. This is up to you. We recommend staying as long as possible. The more time you spend there, the harder it is for them to do their work - which is a win for us and demonstrates the commitment and seriousness of this issue.

  1. If you are planning to get arrested, let us know and make sure you have adequate legal support.

  1. When you leave, have a plan for how you will leave as a group with a statement. Know what the exit plan is - what does the end look like that will feel empowering. Agree to a plan ahead of time. We recommend: standing together and singing a song like “We shall not be moved” as you leave.

  1. How do I prepare my kids for this action?
  1. Talk to them in a way that is appropriate for their age. You can share stories about immigration and talk about their experiences being separated from their parents and caregivers.