politics

One Los Angeles Activist Refuses To Stop Protesting Until All Migrant Families Are Reunited

Courtesy of Marco Flores

For two months, Marco Flores has been helping to organize activists through Occupy ICE LA to protest the separation of migrant families. One way he organizes is holding weekly Friday vigils in remembrance of families who have been separated or are in the reunification process. On August 3, the vigil was to honor the memory of a migrant child who allegedly died after being released from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Dilley, Tex.

The 31-year-old activist, who identifies as indigenous by way of his Mixtec roots from Oaxaca, is both an organizer with AIM SoCal (American Indian Movement Southern California) and a backer of the Occupy ICE LA movement “since day one.” 

A typical week for L.A.-based organizer Marco Flores includes assembling nightly watch groups at a downtown L.A. detention facility. 

CREDIT: Courtesy of Marco Flores

“I’m usually there every night,” he said. 

The watch groups usually consist of 15 to 20 people who are ready to camp outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, including blockading one of the driveways. The location was picked for a strategic reason. Flores noted the building next door has Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers inside.

According to Flores, the weekly vigil and protests are meant to bring awareness to both politicians and citizens to push against ICE and the Trump administration.

“We are trying to bring awareness to the issue that first started out with the separation of families,” Flores said. “The Trump administration was supposed to reunite the children with their families on July 26, but that didn’t happen. Nothing has been fixed. ICE is complicit in all of this. It’s wrong and we want our elected [leaders] to stand up against it.”

Every Friday night, the watch group starts with a candlelight vigil for the victims of Trump’s zero-tolerance family separations.

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As AIM celebrates its 50 year anniversary, it stands in solidarity with #OccupyICELA, which is honoring 50 days of occupation. Native Americans are no strangers to family separation. Beginning in the late 19th century, the U.S. government allowed missionary groups to enter reservations, seize Native children, and put them into boarding schools intended to destroy Native Indian tribal identity. They were forced to speak English, worship Christian gods, take Anglo-Saxon names, and adapt to the ways of the “civilized” world. “We as Native Americans have our worst memories resurrected when we see children torn from their parents at the hands of law enforcement, taken to unknown locations, and with an unknown path to reunification. Indigenous communities have historically suffered the consequences of such forceful removal of its children from parents and caretakers that created intergenerational harm that our communities still struggle to address” – AIM SoCal member AIM SoCal will lead this week’s vigil on Friday August 8, 2018 at 8 p.m. We will be at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Aliso between Alameda and Los Angeles (for Google Maps, use: 308 W. Aliso, Los Angeles, CA). Dee Dee Ybarra, a descendent of the Gabrieleño Kizh people, tribal chair of the Rumsen Ama Turataj Ohlone and a member of AIM will start the event with an opening prayer honoring the people of this land. Graywolf, AIM SoCal chapter director, will be one of the speakers as well as other AIM members. WHEN: Friday, August 10, 2018 from 8pm to 10PM WHERE: 308 Aliso St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 We will have candles, but please feel free to bring your own

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“Ultimately, we want to abolish ICE. ICE has become a tool for the Trump administration to perpetuate their hate, it’s pretty much become a terrorist organization,” Flores said. 

For the August 3 vigil, Flores said four or five speakers came out and were invited to share about themselves and how the death of the migrant toddler affected them.

Afterwards, those in attendance were asked to share their name and why they chose to attend the vigil. 

One of the speakers at the August 3 vigil was activist Tai Sunnanon, a native Texan with Thai and Ecuadorian roots who has had experience galvanizing community support for 22 years.

Sunnanon has traveled to Texas meeting with local organizations, attending rallies and visited detention centers fighting for separated families. He has lead workshops on how to engage the community around the cause.

“There are hundreds of parents unaccounted for,” Sunnanon said of his experience in Texas detention centers. “This is something that will take months if not years to resolve.”

Sunnanon urges the public to become involved and said the “best gift someone can give these children is the power of an attorney.”

Could the process take in fact years to resolve, as Sunnanon claims? Technically, it can.

Niels Frenzen, a law professor at the USC Gould School of Law and the director of the school’s immigration clinic, explained once families are reunited, the “asylum process is incredibly complicated because there are so many different scenarios that people can find themselves in.”

“Most adults who have been subjected to the family separation process have been subjected to expedited removal, unless they can establish a ‘credible fear,'” Frenzen said. “If they pass the credible fear test, then they can start an asylum application before an immigration judge.”

If a person establishes a ‘credible fear’ in their home country that they are fleeing from, then they cannot be subjected to deportation from the United States until the person’s asylum case is processed.

The legal clinic heard about a couple of cases through the American Immigration Lawyers Association: AILA, particularly with community groups in El Paso, Texas and picked up two cases over two weeks ago.

He is keeping a close eye on the ACLU litigation in San Diego and elsewhere in the country, since they “might get some court orders that say something about what can happen to these parents of these children that have removal hearings that will take years,” Frenzen said. “ICE could ignore them and let them stay here as long as the kid has a removal process hearing that is pending. It’s unknown because things are happening so fast.”

Flores says he will continue his vigils until families are reunited and elected leaders stand up for human rights.

“We want our elected [leaders] to stand up against it and find the political courage within themselves to stand up,” Flores said about the uncertainty about separated families. “If we can stand up to it, so can you guys.”


READ: Artists Constructed A Massive Cage At Burning Man To Protest ICE And Some Folks Got Upset On Social Media

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While Trump Postponed ICE Raids, He Keeps Using The Community As A Political Pawn Because He Can’t Legislate

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While Trump Postponed ICE Raids, He Keeps Using The Community As A Political Pawn Because He Can’t Legislate

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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.

CREDIT:@diana-bbcita/Twitter

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.”

READ: ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

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ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is reportedly planning a raid in the early morning hours on Sunday in 10 cities.

It is being reported that the raids will target more than 2,000 families in cities with large migrant populations including Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston, according to officials who remain anonymous.

Trump tweeted on Monday that ICE would begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants throughout the U.S.

More than “1 million” undocumented immigrants “have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country” and called enforcing those judicial orders a “top priority” for ICE, a senior administration official told CNN.

They are allegedly planning to use hotel rooms to house everyone until the family can be deported together and say they might even arrest individuals that can’t be deported immediately. They will most likely be released with ankle monitors, in cases such as parents whose children are U.S. citizens.

Miami is reportedly one of the first cities that’ll be raided, according to the Miami Herald, and the other cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco.

Those who will allegedly be targeted include minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and failed to respond to letters from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Additionally, families on the “rocket docket,” a set of deportation cases fast-tracked for by the DOJ.

There are around 52,000 single adults in ICE custody overall, mostly those who came from the border, according to CNN.

Many are saying Trump’s push for deportations, including essentially outing the raid, are part of his reelection bid due to his poor record.

The inhumane treatment of immigrants in detention centers has been well documented, with a spread of illness leading to many unnecessary deaths, including those of children.

Recently the American Civil Liberties Union  ACLU shared on Instagram what people can do if ICE comes knocking on their door.

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What to do if ICE agents are at your door. #KnowYourRights

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They advise not to open the door unless they have a warrant signed by a judge since ICE administrative warrant does not give them permission to enter a home.

The ACLU website also has an entire section dedicated to immigrants’ rights with several resources for dealing with ICE, border patrol, and the police.

In response to raid that occurred in Ohio a little more than a year ago, HOLA Ohio founder Veronica Isabel Dahlberg wrote in a blog on the ACLU site:

“Regardless of citizenship status, for workers — including teenagers, mothers, fathers, and those with medical issues — to be treated like enemy insurgents is beyond disturbing. It is terrible, barbaric, and inhumane.”

READ: Daughter Sues ICE After They Denied Father Cirrhosis And Diabetes Medication While In Detention Resulting In His Death

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