8/7/20, 10:00 AM

Corridor coalition launches Worker’s Academy to counter ICE’s paramilitary propaganda program

A coalition of Eastern Iowa organizations are coordinating a response to the on-going attacks by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) against immigrants, refugees, DACA recipients, international students, and Black Lives Matter.

The groups denounce ICE’s dangerous new “Citizen’s Academy”, a paramilitary propaganda program beginning September 15 in Chicago that promises participants training in immigration arrests, tactics, and weaponry.

The alternative, Iowa-based Worker’s Academy will include a virtual Deportation Defense Summit from 10am-Noon on Saturday, August 22. The Deportation Defense Summit is organized by the Iowa City Catholic Worker House, United Electrical Workers Local 896 - the Committee to Organize Graduate Students (COGS) and the Cedar Rapids-based Black Lives Matter group, Advocates for Social Justice.

The Deportation Defense Summit will feature a keynote speech by Jacinta Gonzales, from the national immigrant power organization Mijente. The summit will include victory stories, powerpoint presentations, and breakout groups led by directly-impacted immigrants, refugees, DACA recipients, international students and Black Lives Matter leaders.

Juan Manuel Galvez Ibarra, an Iowa City Catholic Worker and El Trueque publisher and editor, said:

“Iowa’s Hispanic community doesn’t need any public relations spin from Homeland Security to know ICE is a dangerous threat to our families and neighborhoods. ICE’s Citizens Academy will train wannabe paramilitaries in racial profiling. The Worker’s Academy will teach the multiracial working-class the true meaning and methods of community self-defense, labor organizing, and collective action.”

Raquel Wood, a University of Iowa graduate student and Latinx COGS member said:

“COGS encourages all graduate student-workers and university community members to attend this Deportation Defense Summit and learn how we can all work from the ground up to defend the livelihoods of immigrant, refugee, DACA, and international students. As ICE attempts to force a choice between health and employment for international students, and collects armed and untrained vigilantes into 'citizen academy' militias, we must all do our part to protect ourselves, our friends, our colleagues, and our community.”

Advocates for Social Justice member Tamara Marcus said:

“ICE’s “Citizen’s Academy” is a dangerous propaganda program targeting Brown, Black, and other communities of color during a time of national reckoning over racial profiling and police brutality. We invite all Iowans of conscience to join us on August 22 for a Deportation Defense Summit to protect refugee children and keep families together.”

The Worker’s Academy will also include a September 1 Protective Accompaniment Escort of three at-risk refugees to their ICE check-ins.

ICE recently banned new international students from entering the U.S. if they are only taking online classes, after picking and losing a fight to deport all international students residing in the U.S. who are not taking or teaching in-person classes.

The Trump Administration has also announced it will not approve new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) after the Supreme Court prevented the president from ending the DREAMER program.

A new Netflix documentary, Immigrant Nation, was released August 3, a “horrifying” inside look at ICE and President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.