As the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration increases, police around the country are having a harder time reassuring their undocumented population that they won’t be acting as defacto ICE agents. In some parts of the country, undocumented residents are refusing to report crimes out of fear they will be questioned about their immigration status. This lack of reporting can contribute to a rise in criminal activity, as witnesses and victims are less likely to help police locate perpetrators or provide testimony. To prevent this from happening in Bellevue, Washington (a suburb of Seattle), the police department released a video reassuring citizens that police officers would not cooperate with an immigration officer in any way that could threaten the safety or freedom of its law-abiding citizens, undocumented or otherwise.
There are two conditions citizens of Bellevue need to know, however.
If someone is arrested, a police officer could inquire about a person’s immigration status. Secondly, when an undocumented criminal is arrested for a serious crime, immigration could be contacted to have that person removed if they are a threat to the public safety. In the video, Corporal Antonio Romero explains that this condition would not apply to anyone arrested for a minor crime or even a traffic violation.
“My beautiful friend @antonsoggiu came to visit from Norway and he included me in his magical art. TEN SECOND PORTRAITS. It’s always great to be in front of his lens but this time it was just me. Bare and exposed in the streets of la. No makeup. No styling. Just me. I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail. I like watching this video. It makes me uncomfortable but there is a freedom I feel maybe even an acceptance. This is me. Puro Gina.”
In the short clip, where she stares into the camera, trying to smile, wearing no make up, on the street, in a cap — she looks pretty normal. But if you look a little deeper and keep an open mind, you see her bite her lip and struggle to keep the same face for more than a few seconds at a time. She appears to go through a million emotions in the span of 10 seconds, and there’s a sense of discomfort at certain points — that’s the anxiety seeping in.
For some, those feelings can be so intense that they become crippling. For many, like Rodriguez, that’s just a part of their every day lives. More often than not though, it’s not something most Latinos get to learn about themselves or talk about with their families. Sometimes, we just bottle that stuff up, put it away, and get to work, never dealing with it. Many of us don’t even have the healthcare to deal with it even if we wanted to.
Just imagine explaining anxiety to your immigrant abuela. She might just look at you funny. At most, abuela may give you a hug, serve you some asopado, and then ask if you’ve done your chores. All of that may feel wonderful, but it’s not really addressing the issue and that’s just the reality for a lot of us.
The Instagram account has several of these 10-second portraits. Some subjects are smiling…