Skip to main content

Expanding Definitions of Emergency Preparedness

Shadow behind bars

Increasing numbers of worksite raids across the country exemplify the intensity of stepped up immigration enforcement activities. It is especially heart wrenching to hear the stories of citizen children who are left behind in precarious situations when their undocumented parents are detained or deported (see NCLR’s website). In light of these actions, advocates and service providers are attempting to prepare immigrants and their family members should they endure a raid. In these efforts, we might do well to think about how preparing for raids overlaps with our efforts in planning for emergency and/or disaster preparedness.

On the one hand, the potential impact of a worksite raid on an immigrant family warrants special planning—How will immigrant families ensure that children are cared for? What are essential items for survival? Where is money held and is it accessible?

On the other hand, preparing immigrants for natural disasters or other crises may need to include setting in motion mechanisms that will protect them from punitive authorities during an emergency. Stories from the recent California wildfires of immigrants who were fearful of evacuating or approaching aid workers, point out the unique kind of assistance that may be needed by immigrant workers.

Disasters can be natural or created by society. A social network of clinics and other organizations can help cushion these events for marginalized people in this county. MCN and Migrant Health Promotion recently held a free web cast called “ Integrating Promotores(as) Into Emergency Management Plans” that provides practical suggestions for helping the mobile poor deal with emergencies.

Please share your experiences with immigration raids or with helping immigrants prepare for the possibility of a raid.