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'Know Your Rights' campaigns pop up ahead of Trump's inauguration


When shoppers walk into Mi Pueblo Foods to pick up fresh produce in the next few weeks, they'll also get a lesson on their legal and civil rights.

The grocery retailer, which serves a heavily Latino clientele and supports a variety of community initiatives and educational programs, has partnered with the San Jose-based organization SIREN in an effort to inform the public — and in particular immigrants — of their constitutional rights in a variety of settings. During informational sessions at select stores, customers can learn about what to do if, for example, a law enforcement official asks for their immigration status during a routine traffic stop.

SIREN — which stands for Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network — joins dozens of organizations and government agencies nationwide that have rolled out "know your rights" campaigns ahead of President-Elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20. The campaigns _ which have played out on social media and in live streams, during town halls and community workshops, on websites and in one-on-one legal consultations — are part of a last-minute effort to mobilize vulnerable community members against a president who has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and significantly reduce refugee resettlement and Muslim migration to the United States, sparking an unprecedented fear.

"Everybody has basic rights, whether you're documented or undocumented," said Maricela Gutierrez, SIREN's executive director, adding that the group's focus is to show people how they can protect themselves legally.

A spokeswoman for Mi Pueblo, which operates 15 stores throughout the Bay Area, the Central Valley and the Monterrey Bay peninsula, confirmed the partnership and said the campaign will launch at flagship stores later this month. Participating store locations and dates have yet to be confirmed, she said.

"We are always looking for ways to provide value to members, beyond traditional grocery services," Mi Pueblo said in a statement. "We know that immigration is a hot topic in our neighborhoods and that's why we have partnered with SIREN to offer clinics where experts will provide attendees with information on immigration rights, as well as hand out brochures and other material that can better inform our customers."

"Know your rights" campaigns have focused largely on immigrant communities, who fear workplace raids and mass deportations under Trump's administration. Many advocacy organizations have ramped up efforts to inform undocumented residents of what their protections are should they be tracked down by federal immigration officials. They've also addressed concerns about programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, which they fear could give federal officials access to personal information.

Immigration formed a focal point of Trump's campaign, and the Republican business mogul has repeatedly promised mass deportations. Trump has said he also plans to repeal DACA, a controversial program issued under President Barack Obama that has granted temporary deportation relief to an estimated 750,000 young undocumented immigrants, allowing them to pursue higher education and legal employment.

Trump's supporters have said bolstering national security should be a priority in the years to come. National groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform have said undocumented residents do not belong in the country and should not be taking state and federal resources that could go to legal residents. Deportations are necessary, they say.

"For the past year or so, we've seen the immigrant community targeted and attacked by the rhetoric created by certain elected officials," said Samuel Molina, state director for the national civic engagement organization Mi Familia Vota, or My Family Votes.

"It's important that they know that in California and in other states they have advocates who are still on their side and that there are laws that can protect them," he said. "That's why it's important that the community get a hold of these resources and not go back into the shadows."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Bay Area hosted a series of town halls following the election, after a growing number of Muslims alleged they were getting house visits from FBI officials. The group also plans to roll out "know your rights" workshops in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, with a focus on what to do in interactions with law enforcement, how to combat religious bullying at schools and how to protect themselves if Trump were to establish a Muslim registry.

Trump, who has been clear about his desire to create a Muslim registry and potentially banning Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S., reiterated this stance last month, saying, "You know my plans." His aides have since said Trump wouldn't establish a ban based solely on religion, but on countries associated with exporting terrorists.

"There are a lot of unknowns," said CAIR's executive director, Zahra Billoo. "But we want to make sure people have at least a baseline knowledge of their rights so that if worse comes to worse, they are not unprepared."


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