Justice

Undocumented Immigrants and Their Allies Are Creating a New Underground Railroad

February 24th 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

An undocumented attorney has a plan to fight deportations by creating a network of houses to hide immigrants. 

Cesar Vargas, who famously became New York's first undocumented lawyer, said he's starting such a network on Staten Island. 

“Many of these immigrant families will not have access to due process,” Vargas told The Grio. “We’re trying to create an underground railroad-style system to pair up families with immigrants."

ICE police.

Vargas said 35 people have already volunteered to bring people into their homes, including attorneys and retired police officers. 

“It’s incredible to see the response," he told The Grio.

Vargas and his network won't be the first group to shelter undocumented immigrants. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

On Thursday, CNN reported on a network of Los Angeles religious groups called the Rapid Response Team, which is building safe houses for undocumented families . The goal is to keep families together in a home rather than a religious building or a school. One member of the team talked to CNN about what he would do if Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents come to his door. 

"I definitely won't let them in. That's our legal right," he said. "If they have a warrant, then they can come in. I can imagine that could be scary, but I feel the consequences of being passive in this moment is a little scary."

crying-girl

In December, The New York Times also reported on a nationwide network of 450 places of worship that are housing or providing other assistance to immigrants. Although it began in the 1980s, leaders of the Sanctuary Movement told the Times that the network more than doubled after the election of President Donald Trump.

"As faith allies, we are called to be in solidarity through rapid response mobilization to stop these raids, stop these deportations and support impacted communities," reads a statement on the Sanctuary Movement's website. "In the face of President Trump's extremist anti-immigrant agenda we must respond with a prophetic and bold voice."

RELATED: How Colleges Are Protecting Undocumented Students