Dozens of volunteers attended a recent training on how to identify and report Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicles.
The majority-white group of volunteers was taught by a small solidarity group of women working with Siembra NC. Siembra NC is an immigrant-led activist organization that helps to provide services to immigrants in North Carolina such as data entry, fundraising and childcare, in addition to identifying ICE vehicles.
Siembra created this vehicle training course weeks after President Trump threatened raids across the country.
“We are going to ask you to do things that you’ve probably never done before,” said Shana Richards, a Guilford County Schools counselor and volunteer on Siembra NC’s solidarity committee, to the Triad City Beat. “But you’ve shown that you’ve done things like that before, that you’ve been outside your comfort zone. We want you to push yourself outside of that comfort zone; that’s really important, especially for what we’re doing today.”
Trump’s threats have spurred many community members to pursue action outside of their comfort zones.
“It makes people want to step up and want to do something,” said Siembra solidarity committee member Isabelle Moore in the Triad City Beat.
“A lot of us are really tired of just looking at social media and absorbing everything horrible that’s going on,” said Rev. Sadie Lansdale, another committee member and pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Greensboro. “So to have an explicit way to help out is good. There’s something for everybody to do.”
The group explained the goals and steps of work that vehicle verifiers perform in a projected slideshow.
Any community members, immigrants or not, that are suspicious about a vehicle may call dispatcher volunteers to report the car. The dispatcher then texts a verifier to ask them to look for any ICE activity in the area. The verifier will either report back to the dispatcher that there is not a suspicious vehicle in the area or, if they see a vehicle, approach the driver. During this conversation, volunteers inform the driver that they are affiliated with Siembra’s ICE watch. Verifiers, when able, may take photos of the car, stream the conversation on Facebook Live, and ask for identification.
“These cars are always American-made cars and usually SUVs,” said Lansdale in the Triad City Beat. “They also usually have tinted windows and are unmarked.”
After the short interview with the driver, verifiers inform the ICE officer that they will stay as long as the vehicle remains. At this point, the vehicle usually leaves the location.
“ICE doesn’t like to do anything when they know they’re being watched,” said Moore.
While approaching an unknown vehicle may be intimidating at first, the group asks volunteers to think about the broader implications of their actions.
“You have to think about discomfort versus risk,” said Richards. “Everything we are telling you tonight is legal. It shouldn’t get you in trouble with the law or at work. Think about morality.”