SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A group of local organizations is launching new hotline on Thursday to put immigrant families at ease. Churches and immigration advocates are working together to create a network of support for people who feel threatened by immigration officers.
“I think that it is wrong and immoral for us to allow our neighbors to live in such fear,” said Gabby Trejo, Associate Director of Sacramento Area Congregations Together.
ACT is one of several organizations involved in launching the ‘Rapid Response Hotline’ for immigrant families who feel threatened by ICE. Trejo says fear in immigrant communities is still growing in Sacramento. She believes it’s gotten worse since Donald Trump was elected.
“People would see a white van and they would be so scared and they would let everybody know,” she explained. “People are taken in the middle of the night, in the darkness and nobody is actually witnessing.”
Local activists don’t want immigrant families in Sacramento to feel like they’re alone. Anyone can dial the number 24 hours a day. They can verify whether or not an ICE raid is actually happening and they can request a legal observer to be present during an interaction with immigration officers.
“All we are doing is verifying and bearing witness to ensure that people’s rights are being actually respected,” Trejo said.
But former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness says he would hate to see anyone illegally derail a case.
“There’s a broad range of potential there,” he said. “If they are actually arrestible based upon a court order and others are interfering with law enforcement personnel and the efforts to do that then they violate the law!”
Trejo told CBS 13 the volunteers have been trained not to step in.
“We would not be interfering in any way with law enforcement or an arrest because we understand that ICE still has to do their job,” Trejo said.
Even so, Gabriela Bucio, originally from Mexico, says many families in her community may be reluctant to call a stranger for help.
“I can trust only myself I cannot trust them because I don’t know you, I don’t know the people so I know only me,” Bucio said.
The hotline is completely funded by the organization and uses no federal money. More than 50 volunteers throughout Sacramento will be donating their time to help. And should someone be taken away by officers, Trejo says the volunteers will help the family figure out their next steps.