Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

La Coalición Launches Campaign to Aid Families of Detained Immigrants
Family Defense Network connects struggling families and informs community

By Elizabeth McGuire

November 1, 2019

For immigrant families, the potential for falling into financial and psychological hardship following the detainment and/or deportation of a loved one is a harsh reality. Oftentimes, especially over the last three years as Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has cracked down under the Trump administration, families are thrown into a frenzy when a provider is arrested and disappears into the crowded system. The Latin American Coalition, also known as La Coalición, announced a new service this week that will support families who are struggling through the detainment of a loved one.

Launched on Wednesday, the new Family Defense Network (FDN) a digital campaign consisting of workshops to help families with different obstacles they may be dealing with, will run through Wednesday, Nov. 6. LAC formed the Family Defense Network in February in response to intensified action by ICE in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere. They ask that people follow their accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find out when and where the workshops will take place.  

According to La Coalición spokesperson Carolina Díaz, each day the network focused on a new topic. For instance, Wednesday featured an informative session about the objectives of FDN and connected community members with crisis assistance resources and organizations, while Thursday’s session focused on the legal rights of undocumented people.

“We can help people in locating the person that has been deported. Because they don’t know how to navigate the immigration system,” said Diaz. She explained the lack of a detention center in the city limits makes it more difficult for families to know who to call when looking for their loved ones.

In the days to come, La Coalición plans to put a more personal touch on the issue. Several speakers will share their stories of how deportation has affected their lives. Workshops will highlight key contributions of immigrants internationally, along with the contributions that can still be made to support them.

“Our goal is for locals to understand how immigrants positively affect their lives and how their lives are negatively affected by this war on immigrants,” the FDN stated in a press release, asking that allies support the campaign on social media.

Charlotteans marched in support of the immigrant community in February. (Photo courtesy of Latin American Coalition)

Earlier this year, ICE officials openly stated that they would step up enforcement in Mecklenburg County in response to newly elected Sheriff Garry McFadden’s decision to opt out of the controversial 287(g) program

North Carolina saw the most ICE action in the first week of February, when around 200 people were arrested statewide, including more than a dozen in Mecklenburg County. On Feb. 5, Homeland Security Investigations officers raided Bear Creek Arsenal in Sanford and arrested 27 people.

It’s been relatively quiet since then, but Díaz said there are concerns that, as we roll into another round of elections, new waves of ICE raids could become the reality in 2020.

“For at least the last six months we haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary,” she said. “but of course we don’t really know because it is election time and we are afraid that something is going to change.”

The most urgent need for the FDN currently is financial support. Those who are put through deportation proceedings are hit with a number of fees including transportation and legal costs which could make or break someone’s immigration case. Further information about this, the campaign and the issues facing the local immigrant population can be found at the Latin American Coalition website.

Donations will be directed to alleviate challenges like navigating the immigration system, legal representation and funds to pay the bonds if their loved ones are released from detention centers in Atlanta.

“Together, we can ensure that our vulnerable neighbors do not suffer during these uncertain times,” Diaz said. “We are asking our community to commit to helping families that have to face the horror of deportation.” 

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