HURRICANE – Participatory Human Rights Documentation and Story-Collecting

What do you get when you give immigrants the tools to document violations of their human rights? The Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas (COLA) has discovered that in telling their stories, immigrants find support, develop stronger shared analyses together, and become leaders in denouncing the abuses they experience. In addition, you will find truths that cannot be denied and the sickening details behind the abuses against immigrants normalized by mainstream society’s stereotypes and criminalization of immigrants and people of color. Those details collected through documentation also become critical data that grassroots leaders can use to address anti immigrant policies such as 287(g) and Secure Communities programs, which COLA has done in Western NC.
With the goal of empowering even more immigrant and refugee communities with the same tools, a coalition of organizations including COLA, SCSJ, American Friends Service Committee, North Carolina Justice Center, and the Latin American Coalition hosted the first statewide Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network (HURRICANE) Training on May 8th in Greensboro. The groups represented a multiethnic immigrant community in North Carolina including representatives from the Muslim American Society, El Centro Hispano, Immigrant Solidarity Committee of Charlotte, Neighborhood Good Samaritan Center and United African Sisters, each with members who have directly experienced or witnessed human rights abuses as immigrants.
The training started with discussions built on developing a stronger shared analysis about what community documentation means. As the day progressed, the participants learned more about each other’s stories, setting the precedent for future partnerships. Over the next few months, participants will begin gathering stories, organizing story telling nights, and hosting more trainings to further develop leadership. In the long term, the organizations hope to identify trends via the documentation and initiate organizing to combat them. SCSJ is committed to continuing this work and further expand participation in this project, which creates a platform for immigrants to tell their own stories and advocate on their own behalf.