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.”
News broke over the weekend that President Trump would be delaying planned immigration raids throughout the country. He tweeted that the deportation operations would be postponed by two weeks to see if Congress can make changes to asylum laws and work out legislative groundwork with Democrats.
As news of the roundups became public knowledge on Friday, faith and immigration groups prepared and informed communities of their rights and procedures in case of an interaction with ICE officials. But the sudden abrupt reversal did little to relieve or reassure immigrants and their supporters.
Migrant communities across the country are becoming familiar with this feeling.
President Trump’s reversal came as immigrant advocates prepared undocumented immigrants for a highly publicized operation. ICE officials were expected to target more than 2,000 families with pending deportations orders. But even with a delay, fears are mounting for many who don’t know what to expect next for themselves and their families.
Marjorie Murillo, a community liaison specialist for Miami Dade Public Schools, says that President Trump’s delayed immigration raids do nothing but toy with immigrant communities livelihoods.
“We don’t trust him in any way,” Murillo told NBC News. “I’ve been calling and sending messages everywhere that they are postponed, but where I live, parents and everyone, they are never safe.”
This isn’t the first time President Trump has used immigration fear tactics to push for legislation.
Back in 2017, President Trump attempted to terminate the Obama-era program that protected so-called Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. It was a failed attempt to pressure Congress in passing an immigration bill that included new restrictions on legal immigration. Earlier this year, a 35-day government shutdown ended without Democrats agreeing to the president’s terms, funding for a border wall.
There has been pushback from politicians and immigration advocates that are calling the raids unjust.
According to CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump Friday night and asked him to call off the raids. It was the next day that the President would announce the delay. Pelosi approved of President Trump’s announced delay and said it would give Congress enough time to work on immigration reform.
“Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together,” Pelosi tweeted.
Some are calling the move a tactic to help benefit Trump’s effort to secure funding for immigration enforcement. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are currently in the midst of negotiating legislation to allocate funds to different agencies, that includes ICE. The agency is dealing with record large-scale migration of Central American families and unaccompanied children to the U.S.-Mexico border, currently at a 13-year high.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been one of the strongest advocates against ICE deportations. The organization says President Trump’s immigration policies have installed fears in communities across the country.
“Our communities shouldn’t have to live in fear that parents won’t come home from work, or kids won’t return from school, or a knock at the door could rip a family apart,” the ACLU said in a tweet. “This isn’t Donald Trump’s America, it’s ours. We can resist his deportation agenda — together.”
Many on social media are using their platform to share tips and advice in case an individual finds themselves interacting with ICE.
Within hours that news broke that immigration raids would be happening, people took to social media to share helpful tips. From informing people to stay in their homes and to not answer their doors, by the time President Trump announced the delay on Saturday, people were ready.
Images across social media showed ICE checkpoints and areas of interest where deportation officials might show up. But even as more time is given to prepare for the worst-case scenarios, many aren’t taking any risks.
“He’s making an announcement as if these deportations are not already happening,” Murillo said. “He’s saying if Democrats don’t do what I want them to do, deportations will start in two weeks. Deportations have been happening since he went into office. It’s coming, maybe it will turn a little bit, stay on guard. We can’t ever let our guard down.”
The number of casualties at the border and detention camps continues to mount and each death that is reported hits the immigrant community just as hard. The death count is hard to pinpoint at immigration officials have actively hidden deaths in the past and some deaths occur as migrants attempt to cross the border. The latest casualty is being reported from southern Texas near the Rio Grande and includes children.
The bodies of four undocumented people, one 20-year-old woman, two infants, and a toddler, were found near the Rio Grande.
Sheriff Eddie Guerra of Hidalgo County tweeted that the FBI would be leading the investigation on the four casualties because the bodies were found on U.S. federal land.
“Deputies are on scene by the river SE of the Anzalduas Park in Las Paloma Wildlife Management Area where Border Patrol agents located 4 deceased bodies,” he tweeted.
Their nationalities are unclear as of now, but the names will not be released until the embassy of their country of origin is informed, followed by the family of the victims.
According to the Associated Press, the woman and children could have been dead for days.
While the cause of death remains unknown, initial reports suggest they could have died of heat exhaustion which is common when traveling through that rugged terrain, especially in the summer.
Earlier in the day, Sheriff Eddie Guerra tweeted about a heat advisory in the area and warned people not to go outside.
Immigration advocates are outraged over the latest deaths, primarily because U.S. citizens attempting to prevent deaths on the border by volunteering to give migrants food and water are being prosecuted.
Private citizens and elected officials have tried to help those making the deadly journey to the U.S. While no one is pushing for open, un monitored borders, there are people fighting to make sure that those who will make the journey in desperation do not die.
The latest deaths are calling attention to those working to help migrants risking arrest and imprisonment under the Trump administration.
Scott Warren, a volunteer with No More Deaths, was recently on trial for dropping life-saving supplies along a popular route for those seeking safety in the U.S. The jury in his case could not come to a conclusion about whether or not he broke any laws. In turn, the judge declared a mistrial and the judge said there will be a conference on July 2 to decide how to proceed.