Notes from our Education Gathering

On August 23rd , many members of the Baltimore Theatre Community gathered the Pop-up @3522 space in Highlandtown to learn about the migrant crisis in our country, the presence of ICE in our town of Baltimore, and how we can be active allies to our city’s immigrant communities.

Here are some notes taken from the event, highlighting significant topics covered, and important legal rights that allies have, as shared by the DoA Ensemble.

Get informed! You can be more supportive and proactive the more you know!

• ON CONTROL OF THE BALTIMORE CITY POLICE: There was very significant discussion on Baltimore City police and how they were not under local control. Groups like Casa are working on bills 2 support Baltimore City police becoming under Baltimore City control. Currently our Baltimore police are under the control of the state. This changes the dynamic of authority and the reduces citizen's ability to make changes to police behavior a great deal, including ICE and their use of our city's police forces.

• ON YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT AS AN ALLY: The absolute right to remain silent in the presence of ICE. Silence is golden. If you speak, you are volunteering information you do not need to volunteer. This right extends to both you and the person they are trying to detain.

• ON SEEING SOMETHING: As an ally, knowing if I see ICE or ICE searching for it detaining someone, i can report it to casa and it makes a difference. Also knowing what to report so that the information is useful to help that person.

• ABOUT ICE: ICE does not have to identify themselves in the same way police do. This makes it harder to combat their efforts to get information or enter buildings head on. They are not funded well, so they use deceit a lot of the time to find information.

• MORE ABOUT ICE: If ICE does not have a warrant to enter a home or building, you do not have to let them in a building. 80% of the time they do not have a warrant. They may lie or fake a warrant, but most of the time they do not have one. If they have a warrant they can open the door by breaking it down. If they're not opening the door, they don't have a warrant.

• ABOUT DEPORTATION UNDER TRUMP: Under the Trump administration, here have been changes to the ways that folks are chosen to be detained. Under the Obama administration, there were actually more deportations, however they were generally high priority deportations applying to folks with dangerous criminal records. Deportation priority levels used to differentiate the need to find and send an immigrant out of the country. Under the Trump administration, no priority levels had been followed, and every immigrant is equally at risk for deportation. They are simply going after everyone, not just the dangerous few.

• “BUT THEY DON’T PAY TAXES…” IS A LIE: We learned a great deal about the way in which "undocumented" workers are taxed. one common argument is that immigrants are not paying taxes. This is absolutely untrue. Folks without a social security number are given an i10 number, subjecting those earnings to withholding taxes. Taxes are in fact being withheld from these immigrants via their I-10 number.

• THE DANGERS OF OPPORTUNISTIC BUSINESSES THAT TARGET IMMIGRANTS: Apparently there are a whole host of parasitic businesses set up to take advantage of immigrants could you not have a social security number and take advantage of their willingness to pay money to do things in a legitimate manner. These parasitic businesses can be sidestepped by services offered by Casa, particularly in the realm of paying taxes. 

• THE DANGERS OF UNJUST LAWS:  There is a law,287g that allows a regular cop to act as an immigration agent. This law should be fought.

• WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE TRYING TO GET THROUGH THE BORDER: The push factors of why central Americans from three specific countries are coming to our southern border were discussed. Most of these factors deal with great corruption in government, in social networks and communities, the hoarding of community resources, and extreme poverty.

• WHO IS ADVOCATING FOR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES: The work of Casa is immense and broad reaching. They deal with legal issues for immigrants, they also deal with day today matters. It is significant to acknowledge that the folks who are dealing with day-to-day matters that help immigrants lives are working through the inequity of applying laws. Often laws to protect people are fought for and won, however applying those laws and implementation of these regulations are often too difficult to accomplish through regulation alone. For this reason, Casa offers great legal resources and support as well as practical Daily life support.

• HOW CAN WE AS CREATIVE PEOPLE HELP? We discussed the way in which artists and theater makers can move forward with this knowledge and make differences for organized around supporting immigrants in our communities. Abby Sea spoke about their search for collaborators to spread the word about border justice, and encouraged us to all use our work with imagery to resist and tell the stories that need to be told.

• A PUBLIC POSTING OF RIGHTS FOR THEATRE SPACES: Several theaters who were represented in the room that night determined that there would be a push to present a large copy of immigrants rights in an obvious public place in the theater. The thinking is that if immigrants rights are posted readily in a public space, citizens are more likely to be engaged with that information and offer the right kind of support and help should an ice agent come to the theater space.