Immigrant communities are organizing beyond protests.
The idea of immigration rapid response teams started with Violeta Roman’s story. It was before dawn in 2014, and Roman was already at work — the early shift at a café in San Francisco. Then her daughter called, sobbing.
“I asked her what was wrong,” say Roman. “‘The police are here,’ she said. ‘They are taking grandpa away.'”
Roman asked a coworker to rush her home, but it was too late. Her father, from Mexico, was already cuffed and being driven away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. It was a quick operation — 15 minutes.
Roman turned to her church for help finding a lawyer and community members who would volunteer to accompany her dad to immigration court.
She vowed to find a way to support other people facing deportation and family splits. That vow helped spark what are called rapid response networks — which are now being replicated in other cities across the US. These organizations are springing up especially as the Trump administration pushes to ramp up deportations, targeting “sanctuary cities” — those it accuses of limiting cooperation with federal agents to shield undocumented immigrants — in particular.