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.”
A mural showing the Statue of Liberty being handcuffed by immigration enforcement officers has been unveiled in Las Vegas, amid rancour and anger over Donald Trump’sharsh immigration policies.
The mural, titled “Chained Migration,” was unveiled late last month in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since then, it has caused a lot of dialogue between those who support it and those who don’t.
The mural is a 20×50 art installation that depicts the Statue of Liberty handcuffed and bet over the hood of an ICE patrol car. It was created by Izaac Zevalking, also known as Recycled Propaganda, a political artist that aims to create art influenced by history and current events. Zevalking himself is an immigrant from the UK. Zevalking is using the Statue of Liberty, who is considered a beacon of hope for immigrants, to demonstrate how the harmful rhetoric used against them is harming the American Dream.
In an interview with KTNV Las Vegas, Zevalking explains that the goal of the mural is to create a conversation about immigration in the United States. “I want people just to think about the issue. Wherever that thought leaves you. Wherever that conversation with someone else leaves you. I think it needs to be discussed more in human terms.”
Although some came to the internet to praise Zevalking for his mural, others were quick to disagree with his artwork.
This Twitter user used the infamous MS13 gang as her reasoning for this mural being shameful. Her comment imitates the language that Trump uses in his statements referring to those who migrate into the United States. She plays into the stereotype that all people who are immigrating to the U.S are dangerous gang members.
Some on Twitter were quick to claim they’d happily paint it over.
In the replies, a Twitter user suggested they paint over the mural in protest.
However, Recycled Propaganda clapped back, suggesting that if it gets painted over they keep on bringing it back.
The art piece could not have been more timely given the recent comments made by Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
After being asked in an interview with NPR if the words of Emma Lazarus are part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli replied, adding a line to the poem, “They certainly are – give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
The original reads as, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Recently, the Trump administration decided to make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain a Green Card if they receive government aid, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Cuccinelli is a big defender of this policy, so it is not surprising that these comments about Lazarus’ sonnet were made.
When immigrants are being discussed in politics, it is usually done so in ways that strips them of their humanity.
When folks migrate to the United States, it is often done so out of desperation and necessity. Immigrants come with nothing but a backpack filled with the essentials. They come to work low-paying jobs and because of their status, it is difficult for them to get the assistance they need for issues like healthcare and food assistance. To ask immigrants to come to the United States and to be self-sufficient only treat them with very little dignity is unfair.
When describing this policy, Cuccinelli uses words like a burden when describing immigrants who need public assistance. After his initial remarks about the poem, Cuccinelli said on CNN that the poem was originally referring to Europeans who migrated to the United States.
The artist, who is an immigrant from the UK points out that America is a very different place for white immigrants.
“I personally wasn’t born in America. I was born in the UK and I don’t ever feel attacked as an immigrant and I think that’s cause my skin is white,” Zevalking says.
There is a stark difference between the ways European immigrants and Latin American immigrants are treated in the United States and Zevalking is tapping into that notion with his mural, “Chained Migration.” He is acknowledging his privilege as a European immigrant and using it to shed light on how criminalizing it is for non-white immigrants living in the United States.
Three months ago, we reported the ICE arrest of immigrant activist José Bello. Bello arrived in this country when he was just three years old, but he isn’t afraid to speak up and advocate for change. Bello has become a powerful activist in the undocumented community and used his poetry to criticize U.S. immigration policies. He did just that at a public forum at the Kern County Board of Supervisors by reading aloud his poem titled “Dear America.”
Less than 36 hours later, he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and taken to the Mesa Verda detention center. The ACLU has represented Bello and contested the arrest as a violation of first amendment rights under the grounds that his arrest and the high bail bond was a “retaliatory” response from ICE to his poem. After 89 days in detention, unable to hold his son, NFL players Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins and Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints teamed up with the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund and the National Bail Fund Network to pay Bello’s $50,000 bail.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separated him from his son just two days after he recalled telling his son, “We will never be apart, chiquito.”
Bello’s poem effectively tells America that immigrants aren’t out to get them–they’re here to “work hard, pay taxes, and study”… and build a safe home for their families. Here’s an excerpt:
“The fight has begun ‘We will never be apart chiquito,’ is what I promised my son. Y’all can try to justify your actions. Try to make excuses. The bottom line here is that at the end, the people always triumph and the government loses.”
Bello is a 22-year-old father of one, a farmworker, and Bakersfield College student.
The ACLU also points to his $50,000 bond as a retaliation attempt by ICE given that he makes just $20,000 a year. During his 89 days of detention, he said, “I could see my whole future going out the window.”
“Those three months that I was detained, I just felt like it was cruel,” Bello told The Washington Post. “I couldn’t hold my child. I would have to push him away from me or I would get in trouble. I don’t think any parent should have to experience that. How do you do that to a child? I feel guilty about that, and I’m trying to make up for that time I couldn’t spend with him.”
Bellos said “it seemed like a dream” that NFL players were bailing him out.
Above is an image of Bello reunited with his chiquito niño–finally able to give his son a hug, free from ICE. “To me, it seemed like a dream,” Bello told The Washington Post. “It’s like something that you hear about in movies. I watch football, and I know how much attention and how famous those people are, so just the fact that they would look into helping me out, it was a great honor. I know who they are. I was shocked in a good way.”
Washington Redskins’ Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis made his release possible.
“Jose Bello was exercising a fundamental right that we pride ourselves on as Americans,” Washington Redskins player, Norman, told ACLU. “If he was detained for reciting a peaceful poem then we should really ask ourselves, are our words truly free? This is America right? Where the 1st Amendment is freedom of speech unless I missed the memo somewhere. He was exercising that right.”
New Orlean Saints player, Davis, remarked, “We’ve seen ICE round up nearly 700 people in Mississippi and leave their children without parents, we’ve seen them turn away asylum seekers who will face certain death in their home countries. Is this America? We must say no, and we must start by helping our most vulnerable.”
Norman and Davis are both members of the independent “Players Coalition,” which “exists to end social injustices and racial inequality so future generations have opportunity to thrive without barriers.”
The Players Coalition was founded in 2017 by Anquan Boldin and Malcom Jenkins. The Coalition also has a Task Force Board of 12 voting members, all of whom are NFL players, with the money and social influence to effect change. For example, Davis also helped push through LA House Bill 265 which expanded voting rights to returning citizens and Chris Long gave his entire year’s salary to educational initiatives.
Listen to Jose Bello’s “Dear America” to see why ICE retaliated.
The fight isn’t over. While Bello is out on bond, he’s still facing a judge’s decision about whether he will be deported or allowed to stay in America. ICE claims his arrest was the result of a DUI four months prior. ACLU suggests the timing is far more likely tied to his activism.