#FamiliesBelongTogether #FreeOurFuture

#PlaydateProtest Action Guide

Fill out this form if you’d like to join our campaign and text JOIN IN to 977-79

if you want support to organize your own action.

What’s in this guide?

  1. Introduction
  2. Playdate Plan
  3. Script, songs, signs  
  4. FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Next Steps


Like so many of you, we’ve been horrified at the images coming out of the detention centers across the country of children who have been ripped from their families. We have seen this before: On the slavery auction block, during the displacement and genocide of Native Americans, and the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. We have seen this before in Nazi Europe.

Indeed, many of us and our families came to the US to escape the very conditions that we now find along the border and in detention centers throughout the country. This moment calls us into moral action.

Hand in Hand’s #SanctuaryHomes campaign is organizing family playdate actions at detention centers and ICE offices across the country as one way to join the fight to keep immigrant families together and all immigrants free from incarceration and detention.

People all over the country want to act NOW. 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. Also check out this “nurse-in” at the federal plaza in New Jersey, this action at the ICE Field Offices in NYC, and this playdate in an ICE office in Springfield, MA —you can do it too!

Email us at sanctuaryhomes@domesticemployers.org with questions or text JOIN IN to 977-79 to let us know you’re doing an action. Hand in Hand is eager to support you if we can. 

How to Organize a Playdate Action

  1. Let us know! Sign up as a playdate protest host here. We’ll be in touch to offer support.

  1. Pick a location. You can pick from ICE Field Offices, detention centers, Local US Attorneys offices (find a list of offices here), and Congressional Offices. There is also a campaign targeting corporations including Wells Fargo and Chase, calling on them to stop financing the for-profit private prison companies CivicCorp and GEO Group who are profiting from detention in this country. 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 sanctuaryhomes@domesticemployers.org or check with a local organizing or advocacy group familiar with the office. If you’re not sure, err on the side of making sure you do no harm.

  1. Choose a date that works for you and your group. And you can do it soon if you’re ready to act - we organized our action in New York City in just two days! If your action is going to be trying to get into a building and posting that information in advance might make it harder for you to get in, just pick a meeting spot nearby and list that address.

  1. Recruit Recruit Recruit. Invite other families to join you. Explain why this action feels important to you, as a parent, caregiver, or as someone with their own relationship to immigration, either in your own life or as an employer of a domestic worker. Telling people about it makes a difference: tell your religious community, the parents at your kid’s school, your sports league, your Zumba class.
  • You might want to make a Facebook event or group - people are hungry to act.
  • Make a clear plan about how much information you want to share publicly - if you are intending to go inside an office or facility, you probably want to keep the public information vague, or set up a meeting place that is close to the location so that you don’t lose your chance to get inside.

  1. Set up a planning meeting or call so people know what you’re doing, what to expect and what they need to do. Identify what roles you need and who can fill them, like someone to welcome other participants, someone to talk to the people in the office or the police, someone to lead songs, take pictures, etc.

  1. Plan your playdate timeline. It’s important to know roughly what you’ll be doing when you show up. Here is a sample program (with songs and chants) you can use, and a messaging document that includes demands.
  • Make the plan for your playdate, knowing that once you decide where you’re doing, you’ll want to set up and take up space and stay as long as you can. Bring things for  play activities, story time, and sing-alongs/musical play (here’s a list of books about immigration for kids of all ages). It’s important to bring toys and things you can easily and discreetly carry and fold up.  
  • Bring snacks and blankets—this is a real playdate!
  • Make sure you bring a sign-in sheet so you can collect everyone’s information and keep them connect to the movement!
  • You may want to use some of the time to share your own immigration and care stories amongst the parents.
  • Identify people for key roles-
  1. Song/chant leaders
  2. People to help usher the group in and out of the building or office
  3. Spokespeople to talk with press and share their stories
  4. Point person to communicate with building security or police during the action
  5. Point person to deal with counter-protestors or people trying to provoke trouble (someone able to de-escalate any conflict that could come up)
  • Make sure you’re clear on how long you plan to stay in the office - we encourage you to stay as long as you can, and leave when it’s clear that if you don’t leave then, you will be arrested. This action can be incredibly effective and moving without any arrests. But, if you are interested in exploring civil disobedience as part of your action, please contact us or make sure you have adequate legal support and all the information you need.

  1. Organize your thoughts. As soon as we know your plan, we can invite press and support you to talk to reporters. But the most important thing here is speaking from your heart, whether to reporters or office staff: What brings you here? Why is this important to you? What kind of action do you want to see? Don’t forget to state your main demands (for example: an end to family separation, freedom for families seeking refuge in this country, and to defund and abolish ICE).

Practice what you’ll say a few times. It can be helpful to use the P.R.E.P. 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.

  1. Share the action in real-time  
  • You can include more people by streaming via Facebook live. Email us at sanctuaryhomes@domesticemployers.org when your livestream will be posted so we can share on our Facebook page, and we can host it for you if you need help.
  • Designate someone to take pictures and post on social media
  • Tag @HIHemployers on Twitter or tag our page (@domesticemployers) on Facebook
  • 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 #FamilesBelongTogether #FreeOurFuture  

  1. Report back and keep organizing. After an event, please send in your photos and videos to sanctuaryhomes@domesticemployers.org to help us create a larger, shared story. Also tag our Facebook page on anything you post. 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 with Hand in Hand. And, ask everyone who participated to share the toolkit with *their* friends and networks, and offer to give them advice if they want to organize their own action

Playdate Resources: Songs, Messages, and Signs  

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)
  3. Key tip for actions with kids: BATHROOMS. Make sure kids go to the bathroom right before you leave for the action, and that you identify several bathrooms near the action site in advance.

  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. How long you stay is up to you. But for every action, the group should agree on a decision-making process so that once at the action, everyone knows *how* the decision gets made to stay or go. It is helpful to have someone (or a small group of people for larger actions) designated to facilitate the decision-making. 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. If it is clear that staying will result in arrest, the group can decide to leave.

  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. Here is a blog post about talking to kids about immigration.

Next Steps  

Thank you for downloading this toolkit as a first step to taking action for immigrant communities. We hope you use and share it with others to creatively confront our government's attacks on immigrants.

Be sure to add your piece to the larger picture!  

  • After an event, please send in your photos and videos to sanctuaryhomes@domesticemployers.org to help us create a larger, shared story (which you can keep up with here!).

  • Ask everyone who participated to share the toolkit with *their* friends and networks, and offer to give them advice if they want to organize their own action. Tagging people on Facebook works wonders!

  • Write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor of your local paper about the latest family separation news and the playdate you organized or participated in.  

Inspire others and help build momentum!

  • Talk to us about what’s next.

  • Join our weekly planning calls (see top of document) to support others, by sharing your experience, and to learn about the latest news and plans in the broader effort to end family separations. We’re not stopping!

Support the vast network of people working alongside you  

  • To support Hand in Hand, please make a contribution towards our vision of creating caring communities that recognize all of our interdependence.

  • We also encourage you to support the many grassroots organizations that are working directly with immigrant and refugee communities. You can find a list here.


Sanctuary Homes is a project of Hand in Hand:The Domestic Employers Network

www.mysanctuaryhome.us  www.domesticemployers.org