A benefit Friday night at Near Future, a temporary exhibition space through Public Space One, will feature a night of punk tunes in support of the newly-formed Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project, which aims to help under-documented individuals swept up in immigration raids.
FIGHT BACK: Benefit for the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project
Near Future (323 E Market St) — Friday, Feb. 24 at 10 p.m.
Natalia Espina, who is involved with the bond project, said the idea for the organization came about as a result of a variety of immigration advocacy organizations, lawyers and interested individuals getting together to brainstorm a contingency plan in the case of an immigration sweep.
“The goal is to be able to get legal representation for people in place if and when there is a sweep, because things move very quickly,” Espina said. “When folks are detained, we need a bond instantaneously for them to get due process. If you have those two pieces together — posting a bond and legal representation — your outcomes are so much better.”
Many undocumented or underdocumented individuals lack a strong safety net in their communities to fall back on for help, Espina said, although she added that some faith-based groups and families are very supportive. In addition to challenges finding work, many face barriers such as being unable to access transportation, being underpaid or exploited in the workplace and falling victim to crimes they are afraid to report.
“There’s just so many different vulnerabilities and I think people may not understand how deep those vulnerabilities go,” she said. “It’s not just being vulnerable because of socio-economic status. A lot of the things that we have as a line of defense as citizens, for the majority of these people, those protections just don’t exist.”
Since the January inauguration of President Donald Trump, things have moved quickly. Earlier this week, a pair of memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly laid out new rules that could broaden the scope of deportations by, among other things, expanding the basis for prioritizing removal to include people in the country illegally who might have committed a crime but have not been charged, those who have abused a public benefits program and those judged to be a risk to public safety or national security. Officials have said the changes would not impact Dreamers, who were brought into the country as children.
Espina cited key concerns about immigration sweeps and deportations breaking up families — separating parents from children who were born in the United States and are American citizens.
“We have much greater things to focus on than deportation. We need reform. Our immigration system has been broken for many, many years,” she said. “There are all these different layers that I think can be hard to understand for people who aren’t exposed to the immigration system, but I think people are more interested now.”
Joe Milik, who is organizing the Friday event at Near Future, said the benefit is a way to start moving forward to help vulnerable individuals and show solidarity with their struggles. He noted that raids and deportations are not new — more than 2.7 million people were deported under President Barack Obama.
“But this burning fervor in so many people and the will to fight against and resist this oppression, to say enough is enough, is new and is boiling over into what can be a real change for the better,” he said. “I want to harness this feeling in our community and use it to positively change people’s lives here.”
Admission to the show on Friday, which starts at 10 p.m., is a $5-10 suggested donation. Milik said he hoped the event helps raise awareness both about the challenges faced and the steps people can take to move forward.
“I want people to realize that, while it is nice to go to fundraisers, money always runs out and there will never be enough of it to permanently change any power structure in this world; and if we want real change, if we want to really protect our loved ones, then we need to come together and put our bodies on the line and in the way of the forces trying to harm those around us,” Milik said.