A local immigrant rights group, The Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition, is looking for ways to update its Community Defense Network (CDN) program, which monitors the activity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the area and supports those targeted for potential deportation.
“Since Long Beach is a sanctuary city, this is a method of trying to enforce that and trying to limit the interactions [where] the city cooperates with ICE,” Sanctuary Fellow for the Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition, Jennifer Benitez told the Signal Tribune. “For example, with the Community Defense Network, when we get calls, usually about whether or not there is ICE activity happening in the city, we are the ones who will be responding to that call. We will be the ones who are dispatching observers to the scene, so they can document all the interaction as it is happening, and also provide the people who are affected with resources to lawyers, to anything they might need during their proceedings.”
Benitez graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in Sociology, and will be working within the Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition’s CDN program as its new Sanctuary fellow. Applicants chosen for the fellowship are given a year long position and $2,000 stipend, according to the organization’s website.
“It’s still operating, but it’s going to be undergoing restructuring to make it more efficient,” Benitez said of the CDN.
Multiple communities in Long Beach are affected by deportation including Latinos, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders and more. ICE reported a 279% increase in the deportation of Cambodian immigrants between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018.
“I think that it’s really important that as a member of a community that is so diverse like Long Beach where we have Cambodian folks, Filipino folks, Latino folks, Black folks, all kinds of folks here, I think it’s really important to learn about each other’s peoples, our histories, our struggles so that we can better stand in solidarity with each other,” Benitez told the Signal Tribune at a Southeast Asian/Khmer Deportation Teach-In hosted at the United Cambodian Community’s building in Cambodia Town on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
When the CDN team has been notified that ICE activity is happening in the city, its dispatchers will send observers to the incident to record videos, take notes and support the immigrants being affected.
To join the Sanctuary Long Beach Coalition’s CDN program as a dispatcher or observer contact Jennifer Benitez at firstname.lastname@example.org.