ROGERS PARK — A group of Rogers Park residents is doubling down on its efforts to protect neighbors from immigration raids — just as President Donald Trump has escalated his administration’s plans to deport immigrants from sanctuary cities.
An organization called Protect RP was created by Rogers Park neighbors in the wake of Trump’s election in 2016. The group seeks to not only stay informed of Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) activity in the neighborhood, but to also physically disrupt raids and deportation efforts in Rogers Park, said Gabe Gonzalez, an organizer with Protect RP.
Gonzalez would not say whether the group has disrupted any raids to date.
Protect RP met regularly in the early days of the Trump administration, which promised harsh crackdowns on illegal immigration. The group reconvened in July 2019, when the administration announced (and then called off) ICE efforts aimed at deporting “millions.”
The group also held a training seminar on Saturday at Living Water Community Church in Rogers Park. That meeting has coincided with the Trump administration’s announcement that ICE would be sending Border Patrol Tactical Units to conduct raids in sanctuary cities like Chicago, according to the New York Times.
“We’re just recommitting ourselves to this work, and protecting people we care about from ICE,” Gonzalez said ahead of Saturday’s meeting. “Here in Rogers Park, it’s a very, very diverse community. There’s a significant population that’s undocumented, or loves someone whose undocumented.”
Protect RP seeks to do two things in the face of ICE activity in the neighborhood: inform those vulnerable to deportation of the law enforcement action, and to amass volunteers to disrupt those efforts. Gonzalez said Saturday’s provided an update on ICE tactics and reminded residents of their rights in the face of deportation attempts.
For example, if neighbors believe that ICE is attempting raids in Rogers Park, they can call Protect RP’s hotline number to report that activity. A volunteer trained in spotting deportation efforts will then work to verify that the activity involves ICE.
If it is confirmed that ICE is in Rogers Park, Protect RP then sends out mass messages warning people of the raid. Finally, another message is sent to volunteer “resisters,” asking them to gather at the site of the raid and nonviolently disrupt the proceedings.
Protect RP trains its resisters to make the local ICE efforts chaotic and cumbersome, Gonzalez said. The resisters can make sure ICE agents are following the law, as well as make their police action as slow and as uncomfortable as possible. The idea, Gonzalez said, is to make raid efforts in Rogers Park so burdensome that ICE stays away from the neighborhood.
“We don’t want to break the law,” Gonzalez said. “But we do want to protect the neighborhood.”
The Trump administration’s crack down on immigration has caused fear and uncertainty in some communities, even if cities like Chicago have vowed to remain welcoming and protective of immigrants with varying legal status.
Protect RP is seeking to combat some of that fear, helping the immigrant communities of Rogers Park to know that their neighbors have their backs, Gonzalez said.
“They operate out of fear,” he said of ICE. “We’re going to remove that cloak.”
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