They're known as ICE raids, seemingly indiscriminate, often undercover operations to root out undocumented immigrants, and they happen across the United States, day in, day out. ICE stands for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and while it existed under President Barack Obama, ICE arrests in the workplace went up by more than 600 percent in the last year under President Donald Trump.

With the president's ceaseless talking and tweeting about threats like a government shutdown if Democrats refuse to fund his border wall, or that migrant caravan from Honduras, stories about ICE and its sister agency, CBP - Customs and Border Protection - are right up there on the mainstream media's agenda.

But the role the media play in this particular narrative goes well beyond just covering the story. Over the past year, NGOs and legal advocacy organisations have collaborated with media outlets to track cases of enforcement abuse. And they train communities to use their own media tools to document wrongdoing.

Cases like that of Perla Morales-Luna, Juan Hernandez, or Romulo Avelica Gonzalez are just three examples of thousands that surfaced because they were caught on camera, explains Palika Makam, programme coordinator, WITNESS.

"Eyewitness footage has been so crucial in exposing ICE's manipulative tactics. Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was arrested by two ICE agents who were in unmarked vehicles, wearing jackets that only said 'police'. There's a reason why they don't identify themselves, they are trying to use manipulative tactics to get information from immigrants or people who they've racially profiled in order to arrest and deport them."

While ICE is not a new body, Trump's gone further than any other president to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants. As such, there's been "a substantial

Eyewitness footage has been so crucial in exposing ICE's manipulative tactics.

Palika Makam, programme coordinator, WITNESS

increase in interest" in stories of family separations, deportations, and arrests across the country, says Ryan Devereaux, immigration reporter at The Intercept.

An uptick in stories about how ICE racially profiles people on the street, picks up immigrants at routine court check-ins, uses contentious surveillance tactics, and makes mass arrests have helped to expose the administration's predatory actions.

Some of the journalism does more, by providing extensive collaborations between news organisations and advocacy groups; groups that have done the research and can show people how to protect themselves when ICE agents are raiding their neighbourhoods.

ICE watch projects like The Marshall Project-New York Magazine are particularly interesting because, "seeing the mapping up here, what has actually happened, is useful to immigrant New Yorkers who can actually turn the ambient buzz of rumours about what might be happening into a sense of what has actually happened and can navigate their own lives accordingly," points out Dara Lind, immigration reporter at Vox.

Other grassroots movements across the country are taking place in the form of crash course video journalism workshops, where people learn how video can be used to help immigrant communities expose injustices, advocate for asylum seekers and defend against deportations. It teaches people not just how to document ICE and Border Patrol abuses but how to do it safely and ethically.

"For ICE, an unauthorised immigrant is a lawbreaker," points out Muzaffar Chishti, director at the Migration Policy Institute. "But for the advocates of that unauthorised person, he or she is not just a lawbreaker, but he or she is also a parent, he or she is also a contributing member of the community, he or she is also someone who has roots in this place. They want to portray that aspect of the person, and these tools have become very important in making that happen."


Palika Makam - Programme coordinator, WITNESS
Ryan Devereaux - Immigration reporter, The Intercept
Muzaffar Chishti - Director, Migration Policy Institute
Dara Lind - Immigration reporter, Vox

Source: Al Jazeera