On March 27th, the nonprofit Brooklyn Defender Services in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched an online “We Have Rights” campaign, dedicated to spreading knowledge to multilingual immigrant communities about the steps individuals can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a press release, ACLU campaign strategist Natalie Montelongo explained how important it was that this campaign exist to spread awareness and personal empowerment in immigrant communities: “ICE has a disturbing history of crossing the line and we want immigrants to know that they are protected under the Constitution.” The videos are available in 7 languages, including Urdu.
Comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani narrates the four “We Have Rights” videos in Urdu. The videos, animations based on true events, provide viewers with examples of statements they can make to ICE officers who attempt to enter their residence, demand immigration paperwork, or question them about their and others’ statuses. It also advises viewers to make an emergency plan for worst case scenarios and to record all interactions with ICE.
The campaign’s website provides template emergency plans in three languages, as well as publicity materials for allies and partners to spread the word.
There have been multiple cases of South Asian immigrants being detained by ICE, and deported, that have attracted media attention. According to The Hindu newspaper, 460 Indian immigrants were deported from the US in 2017, up from 353 in 2016. Given how impactful and damaging ICE raids and arrests have been to immigrants and their families, this campaign is a welcome addition to the effort to give communities tools to protect themselves. One hopes that the series will be made available in other South Asian languages in the future.
Watch the “We Have Rights” series in Urdu here.