Feb 222017
 

New Immigration Enforcement And L.A.

Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti made the following statement on DHS Plans for Implementing the President’s Executive Orders on Immigration:

“Stoking fears of mass deportation, turning our backs on refugees and children, denying asylum-seekers the right to see a judge, and showing indifference to suffering are not policies to make us safer — they’re a cruel abandonment of everything we believe as Americans and stand for as Angelenos.

Whether they live in Van Nuys or Virginia, East L.A. or East Lansing — Americans everywhere expect their leaders in Washington to act with the justice, grace, and tolerance that give us our identity. The Administration’s release today of details on how it will implement the President’s executive orders on immigration enforcement reveal plans that run counter to fundamental American principles: Protecting our homeland means focusing on criminals who pose a threat to our safety and security — not turning local police into a deportation force or creating widespread fear by targeting hardworking immigrants who contribute so much to our economy, culture, and spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. And that no matter who is in power, people who have already built lives in this country — or seek refuge from violent persecution, religious oppression, and other extreme hardships — should never have to live in fear of their families being torn apart, and should be able to count on all of the protections that our Constitution and judicial system provide.

Los Angeles stands firm on those ideals, and I will do everything in my power — in partnership with the City Council, our City Attorney, the LAPD, advocates for immigrants, educators, and members of Congress — to protect and defend the rights of all Angelenos whose families may be unjustly affected by these orders. We will fight for the people who call our communities home, and stay committed to leading with the humanity and openness that define us as a people.” — Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles’ Mayor’s statement is noble and courageous. At some point however the authority of the City and the State ends and is superseded by the Federal authority.

President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration were explained during a press conference on February 21st 2017 by the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. A memorandum of the Department of Homeland Security explains which specific groups of undocumented immigrants are priorities for removal. The people who:
(a) have been convicted of any criminal offense;
(b) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved;
(c) have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
(d) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;
(e) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
(f) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States;
(g) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

During immigration raids, none of the above exempts the undocumented immigrants who don’t pose a threat to national security and who didn’t break any but one of American laws by entering the Country illegally. Some of them have been detained and deported already. While a panic is spreading across the nation, Sean Spicer reassured that: “everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time.” The new immigration guidelines open the door for mass deportations in accordance with “expedited removal” procedures. “Expedited removal” vastly reduces court proceedings, meaning the undocumented immigrants will be either deprived of access to the justice system entirely or have access to appeal or otherwise defend themselves severely limited.

To have the new immigration regulations enforced efficiently, the President is increasing the budget of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, etc. There will be thousands more immigration officers and judges and many more detention centers to expedite deportations.

As far as we know, for now at least, DACA and the protections it provides for illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children will remain in effect as the sole exception to the wide-reaching immigration sweep.

When we think of undocumented immigrants, we usually imagine people illegally sneaking into our Country and compromising our safety. We think of these people as “them”, not “us”. As much as this image and reference is true in a small percentage of cases, in the vast majority of cases, it isn’t “them”, it’s very much “us” and about “us”. Why? Because the undocumented immigrants have legally-American and / or American-born families. The new immigration guidelines and enforcement are not just a punishment to undocumented immigrants but a huge disruption to all Americans: American families torn apart, American children not being sent to school, taken to a doctor or vaccinated, crimes not being reported, no eyewitnesses to accidents, significant changes in economy, etc. Many are terrified of a sudden separation of their family. The fear affects the “illegals”, traumatizes their legal families including children and negatively affects normal functioning of the community.

This is only the beginning, what to expect? Increase in psychological problems, crises in several industries, crime, diseases, homelessness, an urgent need for orphanages for American children separated from their parents, not to mention high anxiety in ethnic American citizen communities that anticipate being targeted based on profiling.

Significant and negative impact on local economy will lower our standard of living. High anxiety and fear of authorities will not only disrupt normal functioning of communities but diminish our safety and wellness. If you think about it, the consequences of the new immigration guidelines and enforcement will reverberate throughout the society at large and affect us nearly as much as the illegal immigrants.

Perhaps we should secure our borders first and then deal with the undocumented immigrants already here humanely, in a fashion befitting a nation of immigrants? This way future immigration problems would be prevented, current immigration problems would be solved while the rest of the nation would continue functioning without fear, increase in disease and crime or economic instability. Such a gentler and more diplomatic approach would also strengthen relationships with our neighbors and help preserve the international image of America as compassionate, fair and respectful of human rights. Just a thought.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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