RESIST

The ACLU’s Class on How to Resist President Trump

The constitutional-rights organization is inaugurating an online meetup for tens of thousands of supporters. The topic: fighting for immigrant rights.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

The American Civil Liberties Union is unveiling a plan to make the United States a little bit safer for immigrants—and the Trump administration might be powerless to stop it.

And that’s because the president might never really hear about it.

“What I’ve learned is a lot of our political power base against Trump is in cities and towns,” the ACLU’s National Political Director, Faiz Shakir, told The Daily Beast. “That’s why we want to build up these freedom cities.”

The ACLU is gathering 3,000 people at an event in Miami along with viewers in 2,300 other house party meet-ups in all 50 states Saturday night to talk about their quiet, methodical mission to aid immigrants’ rights through America’s city halls and sheriff’s offices.

“About 150,000 people signed up to watch,” Shakir said. “We’re going to show those people how to go meet with your sheriff, your police commissioner, your local government. We’ll teach them how to get a meeting with them, and then guide that meeting with nine draft ordinances.”

Shakir provided those nine ordinances to The Daily Beast, which he’ll share with attendees on Saturday night. They list several ways to ensure city, county and state officials won’t extralegally aid federal ICE or Customs and Border Patrol officials without valid documentation. See No. 2, for example, which touches on a refusal to lend out city, county, or state facilities to conduct investigations or interrogations of immigrants without the necessary paperwork.

Saturday’s meet-up is going to give them a step-by-step process on how to ACLU members can make sure those ordinances get passed or observed at the local level.

“We want them to ask (public officials), ‘How do you feel about these nine draft ordinances? Where are we as a town on that?’” said Shakir. “From there, we’re building upon the theory that towns and cities are going to be the power base.”

Basically, Shakir said, he wants constituents to let their local governments know that if they’re spending local taxpayer money and time on this, “they’re doing the federal government’s work.”

The ACLU has arguably become the nation’s staunchest legal opponent to the Trump administration’s immigration policies since the president took office in January. In the weekend Trump initially attempted to push through his failed travel ban—which the ACLU immediately challenged in court and won upon appeal—the nonprofit raised $24 million online. That’s about seven times what the nonprofit made online in all of 2015.

That new leadership role led Shakir to wonder what “the 2.0 version of the wonderful political rallies I’ve seen across the country.”

“This is going to be more difficult, but more meaningful. It’s for people who want to roll up our sleeves and fat this head-on,” he said. “If we’re able to mobilize hundreds of people in a town or a city, just imagine what the upscale effect of that will be. At that point, we’re impacting everything in how people perceive and want to fight Donald Trump.”

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Plus, if it works, Shakir said he has other plans cooking at an even further drilled down, hyperlocal level.

“We have ideas about going to school boards to ensure that Muslims in our schools are protected. I can imagine LGBT ordinances, as well,” he said.

“It’s an interesting test example of if this kind of activism can be helpful or not. We can test the theory a little bit, and maybe do something very meaningful.”