Should we go to the press?
Going to the press can be a powerful tool for organizing but can also pose challenges and come with risks. Is it important to think carefully with the community member and their family–as well as the organizer and lawyer, if applicable–about what is best for them.
Discussing the risks
Sharing personal information about a person who is detained may be risky as it can be used against them later on (for example, information about their immigration history, including something as simple as admitting that they were born in another country, or criminal history), so it’s important to be thoughtful about what is shared.
ICE could choose to respond publicly about a case in the press – this means being prepared for the possibility that information not shared by us in the media could come out publicly from ICE.
It is important to have consent from the affected community member about what you will share in the press so that it is their decision and so they feel comfortable with the message. If they are detained, you can visit them to have this conversation and get approval. Once you agree with them on the message and talking points, it is important that their “inner circle” all be on the same page – such as their family and community members, who may also wish to or be asked to talk to the press.
Based on the level of urgency, timing is important. If someone has a hearing in three months, it gives time to create petitions, videos, and push allies to support. If someone is about to be deported the following day, there is not much time to create all these things. The shorter the time span, the more rapid the likely level of escalation. Generating calls to deportation officers is one of the most effective ways to get ICE to know community members are aware a member is detained and takes very little planning. This is an example of a strategy when there is very little time.