Dear Fellow White People: Some Practical Ways to Subvert ICE as We Get Ready for the Weekend’s Crackdown….

Nechama Moring
Jun 22 · 18 min read

Dear fellow white folks, especially those of us who are citizens and not Latinx, let’s slowly and quietly sabotage ICE, because we need to and we can.

If you’re on social media or listening to the news, you’ve been hearing about the Great Orange Fuckstain’s promise of increased ICE raids, sweeps and deportations starting this weekend. Of course, the U.S.’s commitment to genocide and crimes against humanity is nothing new, but hearing plans to escalate an already brutal force like ICE is particularly terrifying. And so we want to help, which is great, but now more than ever we need to be strategic. Strategic and practical. And we need to be good accomplices; this is an article about how, with a practical list of actions you can take in solidarity, and in order to subvert ICE.

I have two main points here: the first is that undocumented folks and communities have been organizing their asses off since this country’s illegal founding and have this resistance thing down. We need to connect to existing networks, serve existing projects and defer to the brilliant, strategic and vulnerable folks who know what the fuck they’re doing. We don’t need to reinvent, because, among other reasons, it’s time consuming and not practical for the kind of rapid response that’s going to be most effective. (There’s also some important racial justice and anti-racism reasons we shouldn’t reinvent, and here are some articles by other people to educate yourself or review: the “auntie network by Hernandez; Scott; Bogado; No White Saviors; a whole bunch more I’ll add to over the weekend after I get this posted :>)

Second, there’s a whole lot of practical shit we can do to subvert and disrupt ICE, and we can use our whiteness to get away with a lot of it. Or we can at least get away with more than our neighbors of color, and we shoulder much less with much less risk than our undocumented comrades. So let’s see increased ICE activity as a call to action, and not an inevitability, and let’s shut this the fuck down.

On to strategy, beginning with how to be an accomplice and support what’s already in place under the strategic leadership of undocumented people, followed by sabotage strategies.

Reproductive justice activist and executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds Yamani Hernandez put it best, in the context of resisting attacks on our abortion rights, but it applies here, too: “We’re stronger when we trust each other, especially those who have deep experience and knowledge that we can turn to in times like these. Our communities cannot be defeated when we build our movement strategically and cohesively. We urge people to follow the lead of….activists in their communities…. We were made for this. We are ready. We need your support.”

Here are some things you can do to show up and support activists in your own community. These activists may be somewhat low-profile or underground, for their own safety, but I’m willing to bet my bail money that they’re there.

  • Always defer to undocumented immigrants and people of color, and groups run by undocumented immigrants and people of color. Don’t try to be a hero. Be an accomplice, in that us white folks have access to a lot of tactics that would get our undocumented neighbors and our neighbors of color in a fuckload of trouble. Use that access, but use it in community.
  • Ask undocumented folks and community organizations what would best serve them and then do that thing. Cosecha, a national organization with many local chapters, is often a good place to start, and can often connect you to organizations in your area. Here’s another list of resources, including rapid response networks, funds and other efforts.
  • Raise money for people to pay immigration detention bonds and get bailed out. This article, though liberal as hell, talks about the importance of bailing out immigrant parents in order to reunite families and has a list of bail funds. Ignore the part about only supporting established charities; “established” is too often just coded language for white, and we are interested in justice, not charity.
  • Raise money for people to pay immigration lawyers and legal fees.
  • If you are qualified to interpret, volunteer to do that. If you’re qualified to provide medical care, volunteer to do that. Whatever skills you have, volunteer for it.
  • Solidarity goes a long way — get to know your community and your neighbors and be there for each other. Intervene and keep each other safe. make it so we need the state less and the state will have less avenues in to our lives.
  • Don’t ever, ever, ever call the cops — they work with ICE. See above re: solidarity and keeping each other safe so we don’t need the state. And seriously, don’t ever call the cops.
  • Please note that the danger and potential harm of calling the cops — for any reason — doesn’t change if you live in a sanctuary city. Sanctuary cities are nice in theory, but all it means is that there are slightly fewer formal channels for cops or other city officials to share information with ICE. In real life, once we step off of paper, cops cooperate and share information with ICE all the time through informal channels, including in sanctuary cities. Sanctuary city status doesn’t stop white supremacists on the force or in city hall from running their mouths with your data. It doesn’t shut down any of the less formal information channels, or even all the formal channels. Don’t be fooled by claims of sanctuary city status — it’s an easy way for politicians to court progressive votes without pissing off anti-immigrant assholes, a politically costly stand. There isn’t much material difference between sanctuary cities and the rest of our cities; my hometown is a sanctuary city on paper and our public school system shared a longass list of undocumented and potentially undocumented students and their families with ICE. So really, really don’t call cops, ever, for any reason.
  • If people are starting free schools because its not safe to drop their children off at school schools because of ICE, offer to teach a subject you know well for an afternoon.
  • Offer childcare and meals. Know your neighbors so you aren’t meeting them for the first time on the worst day of their life, when ICE comes. Be in relationship before that.
  • Offer to do errands for undocumented folks — go to the store, all the shit that a person needs to be out in public to do.
  • Offer to accompany people to in-person stuff they can’t miss, like doctors appointments or ICE check-ins.
  • Talk to activists about what skills and resources you have that you can contribute: Do you have a car and can give people rides? Are you a health care provider? Can you fundraise? Are you able to bodyguard people likely to be targeted? (Hint: ICE targets undocumented activists quite a lot). What do they need and how can you fill these needs?
  • Join a rapid response network so you’ll get a text when raids are happening and you can go and protest, document etc.
  • Many communities have ICE safety/know your rights workshops. Take one, and offer to provide training to others if you’re skilled at that, or coordinate more workshops. Fundraise to bring the workshops to as many venues as you can. Pay activists for their time. (Here’s an example of a white person using what they learned in a know your rights training to prevent ICE from arresting two of their community members.)
  • Us white folks, even if we’re poor, have more access to capital than people of color. Generational wealth, rich friends, people with savings accounts. Leverage this to fundraise. Or at least share the go-fund-mes to support activists, bail funds for getting people out of ICE detention, fundraisers for people targeted by ICE etc.

You may have noticed that this list doesn’t include offering to shelter undocumented people, and this is deliberate. Here’s my friend Eric Cash with an explanation: “A quick note on tactics. I’m not an expert, but I do know some stuff. I’ve seen, both in my feed and in various groups, multiple white folk responding to the upcoming ICE raids with: “I will take in families!” or “take in people in need!”

This is a nice sentiment, but there’s a few problems there.

Immigrants, Latinx people, brown/nonwhite folk being targeted by a militarized federal agency operating outside of any accountability probably aren’t likely to trust a random white stranger (and if they ARE, please understand that those people must be feeling incredibly vulnerable), and it is honestly better that you do not know who these people are.

Compartmentalizing and decentralizing sensitive information is a very important tactic in resisting a state power. So while I 100% understand the human need and desire to cry out on social media, “I will shelter you!” please understand how dangerous that is. You’ve now outed your home as a potential safehouse, and any other person who responds to it naively is outing themselves, and anyone they may mention as a potential target.

I say a lot of shit, but I’m already on a fed watchlist for some stuff that happened in the 90s. I don’t know anything sensitive. I distribute information I take a calculated risk on, and factor risk to others first and foremost.” (I’m here to say that being on the same federal watchlist and having seen each other’s butts is basically the anarchist equivalent of matching friendship bracelets, XOXO)

Speaking of calculated risks, if you’re still with me, and you’re white, let’s talk about how we can use our white privilege to sabotage and subvert ICE, this weekend, and in general. First, talk about ICE and detention and concentration camps as what they are — genocide fueled by white supremacy and end stage capitalism. Nothing is served by debating whether or not we can call ICE detention facilities concentration camps — they are and we can.

But while it’s important to name ICE for what it is, we also need to make sure we don’t talk about ICE as inevitable and unsurmountable. We are not gonna win this one quickly, or even anytime soon, and maybe not in my life time, but if we think of ICE as mythical, super-powered demons with all the power, we’re gonna give up and get complacent, or think of activism as just sharing facebook statuses or whatever.

We gotta remember that yes, this is a powerful, well funded horrifying fascist militia, but also, also ICE is ultimately just people, with names and addresses. We can make them bleed. We can sabotage them. We gotta recognize our own power, especially as white people who have a lot of access to them and can do a lot of shit unnoticed. Here’s another tip from Eric to start us off:

“So far, the best thing I can think for people to do is to be out and on the streets in areas that EVERYONE knows are potential targets for ICE (this is pretty easy in SF. Anyone who’s lived in the city for more than a year knows what areas they’re going to be cruising in), and observe, obstruct, film and advocate. That’ll be difficult as these raids are set to happen before dawn, and probably kind of frightening. In large groups would be safest, and as always, write the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) phone number on your body multiple times in sharpie. The NLG has more information here: https://nlgsf.org/activist-support/” . You can find your local NLG chapter’s number here.

Here are some more ways you can sabotage or interrupt ICE this weekend, and forever. Always disrupt ICE.

  • Get your white friends involved. If you like hanging out and having a beer, being in a book club or doing game night, you’ll love fucking with ICE together. Seriously, though, this is a cool social activity, and everything is better with friends.
  • For many of us, our first instinct is to share information and warn each other, but we need to remember that ICE operates in part by spreading fear. It’s therefore important to avoid contributing to the cycle of fear posting — the “oh shit oh shit oh shit ICE is coming! They’re already here! They’ve been seen in Seattle!” posts and flyering. Yes, its true that ICE is constantly terrorizing our communities and making life a nightmare for undocumented folks. This is true now and will be true on Sunday. But the “ICE is coming! be afraid!” posts just serve to intensify this fear, especially when they are vague and don’t have concrete, material support attached.
  • Instead, be cautious and specific with all posts, and make sure to keep them updated. Rather than posting “ICE seen in Boston” try: “6:22 am Saturday June 22, 2 ICE vehicles and 4 officers parked at the corner of Tremont street and Mass ave. Officers appear to be preparing to knock on doors on the 1600 block of Tremont down from Mass ave. People who need a ride out of the area go to the train station on the inbound side by the turnstiles and ask for Jane. Update: 7:02 am Saturday June 22. ICE vehicles have left and were last seen heading east on Tremont street towards Albany street.” The second message actually keeps people safe because it’s specific and actionable. The first message just helps ICE make people afraid. Let’s get this right.
  • To recap, all posts about ICE sightings should have the following: 1. Date, 2. Time, 3. Exact location (think cross streets, well-known, unique landmarks, not, like, the Dunkin Donuts in a city with a Dunkin Donuts on every corner, mile markets etc), 4. Details about the number of vehicles and agents, 5. What they are doing/their activity. ICE sitting around watching is very different from a sweep, for example, 6. UPDATE when they leave.
  • Update your posts, especially if ICE leaves. Don’t just take them down. Without an update, people will avoid an area for days, long after ICE has left. If you have notified anyone about ICE’s presence in a location, contact them again when ICE leaves so people know its safe to return.
  • If you see ICE, stop and watch. Ask for their name and badge number. Write down everything they do. Keep them occupied. If safe, watch them until they leave, and then either follow them or note what direction they’re headed in. The goal here is to keep tabs on them at all times. We can’t deal with what we can’t see, but we have a fighting chance if we know where they are.
  • If you’re watching ICE, text a friend who lives somewhere else, and/or someone who has a large, anonymous page/group and have them post. Asking vulnerable people to share information personally, or even post it on their social media can be risky. So message the admin of that 12,000 person neighborhood group and ask them to post the information anonymously. Your white friend in Kansas posting info about something happening in Providence, RI is in less immediate danger over the post than your next door neighbor who’s also known as the leader of Providence Against ICE or whatever.
  • Be willing to get arrested if its safe for you. They can only arrest so many people at once. Note that if you are a citizen, ICE is NOT allowed to arrest you. Only cops can arrest you. So, ummm, argue with ICE about it. Ask them to arrest you. Take up their time. Distract them. Make them have to call the cops to arrest you. Because if they’re dealing with you and calling cops in to arrest you, well, you know what they aren’t doing? Arresting our undocumented neighbors.
  • In many areas, ICE agents will get on buses or trains and ask everyone on board for their identification and proof of citizenship. They’ll act like their word is law, but it’s not. So stand up and shout that no one is legally required to show them their ID. No one is required to comply. Shout “You don’t have to show ID”. Say this in multiple languages if you know how, especially the language of people on the bus that ICE is targeting (i.e. Spanish, Vietnamese etc.) or ask other passengers if anyone can translate or tell you how to say this in another language and shout that. Elementary translations are fine. Stand in the aisle of the bus or walk up and down the aisle telling everyone they don’t need to show ID. Get a “nazis off our bus, step in shit on your way out” chant started. Pile luggage in the aisles and get other white people to form a human wall with you so they can’t get further into the car. Do whatever you need to do to interrupt.
  • If you see ICE stationed anywhere in town, call some friends and form a grid-like perimeter around them to warn people before they get to . Position someone at every street corner or intersection a block or two out from them. Each person would then hold a big cardboard sign saying “Alert! ICE at the intersection of 4th Street and Main Street” and verbally warn everyone walking by. (In this example, you’d have a friend on 2nd Street and 6th Street, and the other 2 cross streets, like a square with ICE in the middle.) Encourage other white people to get in on it and take a corner for a while. Set up a phone/text chain with everyone on duty for this, so you can communicate any changes and warn each other if ICE is moving. Best practice is to use an encryption app like Signal, though you aren’t doing anything illegal.
  • If ICE is going door to door, go one or two doors ahead of them, knock and warn people that ICE is coming, and stick a “know your rights” flyer under their door. (Know your rights flyers in multiple languages are available for free download and printing here.)Be as specific as possible (“i.e. ICE is knocking at 72 Main Street 3 doors down. Two agents. Don’t open the door for them”). Remind folks that they DO NOT have to open the door without a warrant signed by a JUDGE. ICE’s own provisional warrants don’t count. If ICE enters their home, no one should talk or answer any questions.
  • Slash their tires if their cars are parked and empty. (Cover your face and hair, and ideally wear medical gloves. A regular pocket knife or swiss army knife stuck in the tire near the inner tube can do real damage and won’t leave prints. An exacto knife, scalpel or even a large nail will do in a pinch. A friend just reminded me that an ice pick or awl also works well. I mean, fuck, I think a pizza cutter could work. A pizza cutter is not a weapon. Neither is a screw driver. You could carry those on your person at all times. You really like pizza.) Update: here’s some additional inspiration, with an even better method for making sure ICE vehicles no longer have air in their tires — snipping the stem part of the tire valve with some regular old clippers, nice and quiet. Maybe you like to garden and you carry around garden clippers. And god bless the Big Easy, getting shit done.
  • Spray paint FUCK YOU ICE or other graffiti on their unmarked cars to identify them. And then go spray paint their houses.
  • Take pictures and doxx local ICE agents, and make a booklet you distribute widely as the “do not serve” list. Like, if ICE agents can’t get a beer, buy groceries or go to the dentist in our communities, we’re all safer. Consequences. Here’s some inspiration.
  • Go all biblical book of exodus and mark their doors, their homes, their laws. Throw a gallon of red paint at their front door. Spray paint ICE SCUMFUCK LIVES HERE on their houses. Post fliers up and down their streets outting them as the humanitarian nightmares they are. The idea here is to let them know that no, it isn’t just a job and it isn’t neutral, and we see them. We see them.
  • And while you’re at their houses, throw bricks thru their windows. Stick dog shit in the door handles of their cars. Stick their hose thru their mail slot and turn it on full blast, like anarchists in Portland did to a lawyer representing ICE, causing a lot of water damage. Release an entire 500 count jar of live crickets in their house, which I bet you could pour in through the mail slot, and I’m just guessing would be noisy and annoying as hell. This company also sells live mealworms and roaches.
  • Leave food and water for migrants.
  • If you see someone being detained, document what’s happening and ask them what you can do to help. This will often be really practical stuff like “call my sister at 777–555–5555 and tell her to pick up my kids at school and activate our plan” or “let my boss know I’m gonna be out sick”.
  • Document everything. If applicable, offer your notes to community organizations and activists who are following ICE.
  • Slash tires, key cars, smash windows and otherwise fuck up cars that have pro-ICE or other racist bumper stickers, then throw a stink bomb in the window. Steal MAGA hats off of people’s heads. Throw tampons at fascists. In other words, make it socially unacceptable to be that racist in public.
  • Solidarity goes a long way — get to know your community and your neighbors and be there for each other. intervene and keep each other safe. make it so we need the state less and the state will have less avenues in to our lives.
  • Don’t ever, ever, ever call the cops — they work with ICE. This is true in sanctuary cities and it’s true everywhere. Just don’t do it.
  • ICE has the effect of isolating people, especially when they are out trying to nab people in the community. So offer to do errands for undocumented folks — go to the store, go to the post office or western union, ask if you can pick up their kids at school or soccer practice — all the shit that a person needs to be out in public to do. Note that if kids are involved, you’ll probably need to be on an official pick up list — schools rightfully won’t let kids leave with the first stranger to come along.
  • Offer to accompany people to in person stuff they cant miss, like doctors appointments and ICE check-ins.
  • Share meds if possible. There’s been a lot of ICE in hospitals and clinics, at least in my area, which means people can’t go to appointments and are having to go without the medication they need.
  • Offer to protect somewhere like a shelter — a ring of white folks holding hands around the perimeter of a building wont keep an ICE raid from happening, but it will delay it.
  • Get a friend or two and do early morning patrols looking for ICE in targeted neighborhoods. Most targeted communities have things like phone chains for if ICE is seen and a text from you saying “5:07 am, ICE vehicle spotted parked at the intersection of Main street and Pine street” to a neighbor can activate the text chain and help people stay safe.
  • If you see an ICE checkpoint, take up their fucking time. Ask questions. Demand they run your license or plates if that’s safe for you. Ask them a shit ton of questions. Refuse to move. Compliment them and start small talk. Ask them for directions. Do karaoke. Just occupy them.
  • Circle back and take up their time again. Call in your white friends to go thru the checkpoint, too, and take up more of their time.
  • Join a rapid response network so you’ll get a text when raids are happening and you can go and protest, document etc.
  • Always film ICE. They hate it, and it will distract them from doing their job. Don’t believe them if they say you aren’t allowed to film.
  • If you’re driving on the highway etc. and theres an ICE checkpoint, go thru the checkpoint and take up their time. Then, go back down the road a mile or so (before the exit before the checkpoint if its a highway, use your judgement if its a regular road). Hold up a big cardboard sign that says “ICE waiting at exit 17. Take exit 16 to avoid ICE”. If possible have some friends go scout ahead and position themselves up by exit 16 to make sure they don’t move down. If you have access, you can also drop a banner from an overhead pass a few exits before the checkpoint, with the date and time and location of ICE. Make sure you include the date and time on any banners — see the note above about why being as specific as possible is crucial for making your action useful and effective, rather than fear-mongering.
  • In other words, sabotage the fuck out of ICE at every turn

And again, get your white friends involved. This is absolutely on us to act on. And we got this. Not all at once, and not easily, and probably not dramatically, but sabotage, subvert, revolt and someday, win.

Love,

A white Jew whose people are here because people* weren’t complicit or too scared to act. Don’t be complicit. Be brave and subtle and subversive.

*About that, a quick history lesson: Towards the end of world war 2, the nazis were invading North Africa, and they demanded a list of all the Jews in Morocco. The king of Morocco handed over a list with one name on it — his own. The Moroccan people did a lot of really badass sabotage too, and resisted a lot of the Nazi occupation. We kinda leave this out of history a lot, though, because it doesn’t conform to the holocaust narratives we in the U.S. like best. You know, the narrative where nazism was uniquely horrific and the result of a charismatic leader, which, ummm, nazism was directly modeled on the U.S.’s eugenics movement and the Indigenous genocide we committed, and didn’t depend on a charismatic leader, just like our current atrocities have very little to do with trump, convenient as it is to make him the figurehead of something that we don’t wanna admit is baked into our history and national character. Nothing began with Trump. There’s also the holocaust narrative of good (white) germans, and other good white people, who single-handedly subverted Nazism like good white saviors. And yes, there were some. But our actual allies and accomplices were people of color, Muslims, Romanis, and queers. Also we’re not super into the many examples, historically and current, of Muslims throwing the fuck down for Jews, cuz it contradicts a white supremacist, Islamophobic, zionist narrative we’re invested in as a country. I’ll be ranting about Palestine for the rest of the night. And fuck zionism. Zionism is right up there with ICE. Fuck borders, fuck walls, free Palestine, build a new world from ICE’s bones.

Nechama Moring

Written by

Queer af writer, reproductive justice activist, educator, mother of Amado, soulmates with her pit bull, Samira. Grant writer by day — www.rgrcommunications.com