An immigrant advocacy organization in Wyoming has joined forces with another in Colorado to create what they’re calling a Rapid Response Network. The groups plan to work across state lines to provide legal services, discrimination reporting and other aid to the region’s immigrants.
ACLU Organizer Antonio Serrano is also chairman of Juntos, which means "together" in Spanish. He said the number of people detained has increased by 145 percent at ICE’s Colorado-Wyoming field office, according to a recent Homeland Security report. Serrano said his group is circulating a booklet in Spanish and Arabic that educates people on their rights. They also offer a toll-free number people can call.
“And when you call, there’s two options: you can either call for emergency assistance because something is happening right now—and that’s when we send out people to go help on the spot--or you can just share a story of discrimination or racial profiling or something that happened in the past.”
The number is 844-864-8341.
Serrano said the group has already been receiving numerous calls to help find detained loved ones and stories of discrimination in the state. He said one person called and reported the experience of several Latino children in a small Wyoming town.
“An entire lunchroom of students were chanting, build the wall, build the wall, and standing over the Latino kids.”
He said he also experienced the same kinds of things growing up in rural Wyoming.
“So it’s not new. It’s just amped up and people feel like it’s okay to say and do things like that to people.”
He said the escalating number of arrests has left Wyoming’s immigrant community frightened.
“People are just scared to do anything,” he said. “People are just doing their best, just want to live normal and be normal, for their family’s sake, for their children’s sake, but it’s hard. It’s hard to go to the store thinking, like, I might not come back, or they might take me from my kids.”
Serrano said the Rapid Response Network is currently looking for volunteers.