U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) aimed their focus on Southern California with raids that began on Feb. 11, and resulted in the detainment of more than 100 undocumented immigrants, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Los Angeles City Council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights and Equity Committee voted in December to make LA a “sanctuary city.” However, that designation couldn’t protect undocumented immigrants from federal authorities.
LA has measures that limit the amount of cooperation local law enforcement has with federal immigration authorities. This is why LA is considered to be an uncooperative jurisdiction. LA city officials want immigrant communities to know that they support them.
ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez told the Daily News that they are still targeting roughly 400 people in seven Southern California counties. Some of the areas that are being targeted include Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties.
“Angelenos should not have to fear raids that bring unnecessary anxiety to our homes, schools, and workplaces and everyone is safer when our neighbors trust the officers who dedicate themselves to protecting and serving the people of this city,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said in an email statement. “That’s why the LAPD will never act as an arm of federal immigration enforcement and it’s why the Administration should focus on people who have committed serious crimes or pose a threat to national security, and take a humane, and sensible approach that does not cause pain for people who only want to live their lives and raise their families in the communities they call home.”
Donald Trump ran on a campaign pledge to severely limit the rights of migrants and refugees attempting to reach the United States. In office, he wasted no time restricting authorized and unauthorized immigration, with travel bans for citizens of a number of Muslim-majority nations, cutting the numbers of refugees the U.S. accepts, and pushing ahead with plans to build a wall on the southern border.
Now amid a global health pandemic, the president is looking to scapegoat migrant and refugee communities by banning all applications for immigration to the U.S. The move is largely seen as symbolic, however, since the U.S. has already largely stopped processing immigration applications due to reduced capacity.
The White House on Monday announced that President Trump would be signing an executive order to temporarily ban all immigration to the U.S.
President Trump tweeted on Monday that he will pass an executive order to suspend immigration to the United States, claiming that he is seeking to protect jobs in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Democrats were quick to criticize it as a “dumb move” and pointed to testing as a safe way to reopen the economy. Not to mention that the U.S. is already home to the largest number of cases around the globe.
Trump tweeted: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”
Obviously, since he made the major announcement over Twitter, there is very little clarity over what immigration programs might be impacted. And the White House still hasn’t offered any guidance on what Trump meant by the tweet.
Trump has taken credit for his restrictions on travel to the U.S. from China and hard-hit European countries, arguing it contributed to slowing the spread of the virus in the U.S. But he has yet to extend those restrictions to other nations now experiencing virus outbreaks.
Although the announcement has left many in shock, the U.S. was already severely limiting immigration due to the pandemic.
Already, much of the immigration flow into the country has been paused during the coronavirus pandemic, as the government has temporarily stopped processing all non-worker visas. And, the executive order in its current form will exempt seasonal foreign farm worker visas, one of the largest sources of immigration at the moment.
The administration has already restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and has paused processing for immigrants trying to come into the U.S. on non-worker visas because of office closures.
But given the usual chaotic roll out of Trump Administration directives, we still don’t know how long this suspension will last nor what will happen with the applicants already being processed.
Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Reuters: “It’s really not about immigration. It’s about the pandemic and keeping our country safer while protecting opportunities for unemployed Americans.”
And it seems the fact that the U.S. already has the largest number of cases on Earth is completely lost on the president.
As of early April, the United States is now home to the largest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections on the planet. There are more than 800,000 cases confirmed by testing and more than 44,000 deaths associated with the virus. In fact, the U.S. now makes up for nearly a third of all Covid-19 infections and a quarter of all deaths.
If Trump wants to make an impact and help flatten the curve in the United States, he should stop promoting the anti-lockdown protests instead of scapegoating immigrant and refugee communities.
Democrats and migrant right’s groups quickly slammed the president’s proposal as xenophobic and counter-productive.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, also a former 2020 presidential candidate, responded to Trump’s tweet as well, saying the move was “shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda.”
“Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1,” she wrote. “His abandonment of his role as president has cost lives. And now, he’s shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda. Enough, Mr. President. The American people are fed up.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a Democrat who ran for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said in response, “We don’t need to protect America from immigrants. We need to protect her from you.” Now that’s a pretty legit clapback.
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The immigrant experience in the U.S. is a plethora of stories with different endings. One common storyline in the current immigration crisis is the separation of families. A viral video of Twitter is showing the immigrant experience in a touching and hopeful way.
Luis Cortes Romero, a DACA recipient in California according to his Twitter bio, posted a video of his mother being reunited with her parents for the first time in 30 years. The video starts with a woman being asked to come into another room. When she rounds the corner, she stops dead in her tracks as she tries to take int eh scene before her. After 30 years, she finally got to see her parents again.
Romero is an attorney and, according to the tweet, he always vowed to bring his grandparents to the U.S. to see their daughter. The moment was captured on video and you can feel the emotions coming through the screen.
Romero briefly described the challenges he faced while getting his grandparents visas to come to the U.S.
A parent’s love is something so special and unconditional. Despite his grandfather being deaf, mute, and illiterate, his grandparents took trips by bus every time they tried for a visa. It took five tries before the couple finally had their visas approved for a visit to the U.S.
The family even got to celebrate his birthday while he was visiting.
The smile on his mom’s face says it all. Imagine having to go 30 years without seeing your parents because of your choice to immigrate or a better life. So many immigrants sacrifice their families, friends, and everything they know in order to achieve a better life for them and their families. The video shows the emotional toll that the immigration experience can take on a family.
People on social media are showering Romero with so much respect.
The Twitter video shows so much love and family unity. It is an intimate look into a life so many Americans will never know or experience. One of overwhelming joy following decades of unfathomable sadness and separation.
The cries from the children seeing their parents are something so many of us can relate to.
Whether or not you have separated from your parents for decades, it is easy to understand the longing for your parents. There is nothing more comforting than being able to see your parents when something goes wrong. There are so many times as adults that we need to rely on our parents, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.
The separation of families is a moment in American history that we will have to face.
Immigration advocates have called the separation of families at the southern border is damaging. The psychological damage to the children being taken by their parents is devastating.