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New Mexico group hosts anti-deportation training

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico activists joined advocacy groups across the country on Wednesday in providing training to people seeking to help immigrants avoid deportation as advocates nationwide prepare for stepped up immigration enforcement from the Trump Administration.

The Albuquerque-based SouthWest Organizing Project hosted a training session on accompanying immigrants to court and supporting them when immigration authorities arrive. Using role-playing exercises, around three dozen or so participants also learned how to advise immigrants of rights and when to record interactions.

“This is a legal observer training,” George Lujan, a spokesman for the SouthWest Organizing Project. “It’s for people who are going to accompany immigrants to court. The reason it’s happening in Albuquerque is because we’ve had ICE agents come to court dates to detain people.”

Most of those who came for the Albuquerque training weren’t Latino or Muslim immigrants but white U.S. citizens who want to provide protection for immigrants, Lujan said.

Bekah Wolf of the National Lawyers Guild led training sessions and gave a general overview what activists should expect when encountering an immigration agent.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations where additional resources and personnel “are dedicated to apprehending deportable foreign nationals.”

Similar anti-deportation sessions called “know your rights” training in New York and California have been pushed by some groups as a way to prepare for a possible crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump.

Organizers say the idea is to give immigrants guidance on how to legitimately push back against attempts to detain them.

Tactics revolve around keeping agents from learning anything they don’t already know.

In Los Angeles, Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said his organization is trying to train more people to conduct know-your-rights presentations at schools and churches to keep up with rising community demand.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras .

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