Decide on the type of campaign

Fully public (online and local TV)

If the person and/or family is willing to have photos of themselves and their loved ones on TV and social media, including information about the case, news articles can be drafted, and petitions shared on social media. Politicians can be contacted to draft letters of support or share petitions. This creates high-level visibility, and the family and person affected should speak with both a lawyer and organizer on messaging.

Public/Private (online & DHS outreach)

If the person and/or family is willing to share petitions online with a photo, but will not go on television or have any of their family members be interviewed. Their story can be broadcast on social media via infographics, etc. The lawyer and organizer would be contacting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the local ICE office for discretion on the case. For example, a letter is drafted to the Secretary of DHS, and calls are generated to local office. It’s encouraged for the person affected to speak with an attorney and an organizer about appropriate messaging. Note that putting things online does make it possible that a reporter or news outlet will take notice and try to write an article about it, which could include asking DHS/ICE for more information about the case. Reaching out to elected officials to show support for a particular case can help.

Fully private (DHS/ICE outreach or legal action)

No social media is shared in this case, and no photos are distributed. Lawyers are pushing for relief and the organizer is drafting letters to the ICE field director and DHS for discretion. Internal campaign with no visibility for the person affected.

Working only with trusted sources

Do not share your story with any reporters that you do not know or cannot verify (this is usually easy with a simple Google search) or with reporters who do not come with verified media outlets. Telemundo, Univision, CNN, NBC, are examples of reputable TV sources. Telesur, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, NPR, are other media platforms that are also reputable. Always ask for information to research the reporter and media outlet before sharing important information. And be sure to talk to your lawyer before you talk to any media outlets.

Example of messaging: For examples of messaging and petitions from past campaigns, check out Make the Road NY’s past campaigns.

To do list when creating an organizing & media plan:

  • Petitions should be drafted and ready to circulate if the person gave consent to a public case.
  • Letters to DHS and ICE must be drafted and reviewed by a lawyer.
  • Photos are essential to show who the person is. There is also a better public response when there is face to a case. If the person is detained and there are no pictures, consider using artwork. Look into volunteers who can help create a video of the case to share.
  • Have community support; people power gets our people free. Be ready to mobilize large contingents in case there is the need.
  • Understand that some levels of escalation can get community members arrested, always put your safety and that of the participants first. If you are not a U.S. citizen consult with an attorney about immigration risks.
  • Create a timeline of what your campaign plan looks like and execute. Note what worked and what could improve! Remember above all, the community has the power.