Agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are routinely rounding up people suspected of being undocumented, often separating them from their children, and detaining them in what are essentially internment camps—all without due process. A new animated series wants to help make sure people have some important information about these types of situations.
An incredibly significant part of the problem facing undocumented people and other marginalized groups frequently targeted by ICE is the fact that often, people are unfamiliar with the rights and protections they’re legally required to have access to, like the ability to speak with a lawyer or that ICE agents cannot enter their homes without a warrant signed by a judge. Together, the ACLU, Immigrant Defense Project, and Brooklyn Defender Services are working to make this and other crucial information more widely-known in an animated video series titled We Have Rights.
Each of the shorts features real-life scenarios involving people being confronted by ICE and provides key information about what to do. If, for example, someone claiming to be with the agency cannot provide the proper warrant, you are not legally required to let them into your home. The videos also make a point of stating that it’s not at all uncommon for ICE agents to lie or use deceptive tactics to lull a person into a sense of security before attempting to detain them.
Though the videos are public service announcements, they’re also works of art, animated by the Chilean production house FLUORfilms; they are as gorgeous as they are necessary, now more than ever. Visually, the shorts have a fluid storybook quality to them reminiscent of Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner. The settings as each scenario opens are purposefully familiar and domestic—places where you can easily envision yourself or your loved ones—in order to emphasize that ICE comes into communities that we’re all part of and regularly tears families apart.
In a public statement about the campaign, ACLU campaign strategist explained that the aim of the videos is to empower immigrants in particular at a time when ICE, as an agency, is not strictly following the rule of law:
“ICE has a disturbing history of crossing the line and we want immigrants to know that they are protected under the Constitution.”
In order to make sure that We Have Rights reaches the widest audience, the entire series is narrated in English, Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Haitian Creole, and Urdu by a variety of celebrities, including Jesse Williams, Diane Guerrero, and Kumail Nanjiani.
Every We Have Rights video makes a point of stating that following its advice isn’t a guarantee that a person won’t be detained by ICE, but in situations like these, knowing your rights is one of the best possible ways to protect yourself.