SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento has a new tool to fight back against the fear generated from some federal immigration raids.
Advocates are now training volunteers to become legal observers. We spoke to one such observer to find out more about how he plans to help those in the immigration crosshairs.READ MORE: 'We Want To Take An Innovated Approach': Sacramento City Pilot Project Sets Aside $1M For Community To Spend
“My situation can change from one day to another,” said Edwin Valdez
Valdez is the son of undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
It’s always in the back of my mind, knowing I can come home and my mom and dad aren’t there,” said Edwin Valdez.
He’s living with uncertainty and responsibility.
“If my dad is…detained by ICE and deported, I automatically have to assume the head of the household,” he said.
But Edwin Valdez isn’t sitting back. The 21-year-old college sophomore is using his fear to fight back against Immigration and Customs Enforcement Raids by arming his community with an understanding of their rights.
“They don’t have to open up the door. They can ask for an arrest warrant,” he explained.
Valdez is teaming up with immigration groups across Northern California and forming a coalition of legal observers for undocumented immigrants. They’re volunteers trained to keep their eyes on ICE.READ MORE: 'I Cannot Safely Return To Work': West Campus Vice Principal Dr. Elysse Versher Resigns, Citing History Of Racial And Sexual Harassment
“These trainings are done by lawyers who work alongside different law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Immigrants who spot an ICE raid call a “rapid response hotline.” Dispatchers are there to offer advice or dispatch a legal observer.
“What we’re able to do is stay back with whoever is left, whether it be a family member, uncle, aunt and provide them with resources,” he said.
It’s the latest in a series of efforts in California designed to advise immigrants at risk of deportation under the Trump administration.
In Sacramento, city leaders recently agreed to pay for the legal defense of undocumented immigrants.
Luis Cespedes serves as legal counsel for the Safe Haven Task Force.
“The City of Sacramento has always stood up for those who are least among us,” he said.
They’re taking aim at President Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities where immigrants find refuge and advocates stand guard.
“At times it keeps me awake at night, but I know that if I continue to work hard I might be able to prevent something,” said Valdez.MORE NEWS: 'The Saddest Thing I've Ever Seen': Community Shaken After 3-Year-Old Dies In Arden-Arcade Fourplex Fire
However, critics say these advocates can’t actually prevent federal ICE activity and argue undocumented immigrants should eventually face the consequences of being in the country illegally.