Diaspora News

Non profit orgs offer tips for undocumented immigrants (Los Angeles will defy Trump’s anti-immigrant policy)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Photo © https://twitter.com/ericgarcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Photo © https://twitter.com/ericgarcetti

BIG crowd demonstrations in Los Angeles against President-elect Donald Trump, appeared to have ended on Tuesday — a day after students converged on Mariachi Plaza, a get-together spot for the city’s musicians, and marched to City Hall.

The students demonstrated for about an hour at the City Hall and returned to their classes afterwards. Despite the lull, tension remain in Los Angeles as Trump warned of incoming tough immigration policy.

On Thursday night (November 10), the Catholic Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, led an interfaith prayer service wherein he reassured undocumented immigrants that the church would not let them down.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has told the media that the city will remain a “welcoming city, where our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they.”

The mayor has also said that police would continue to enforce Special Order 40, which bars officers from asking people about their immigration status.

Garcetti was backed up by the Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck.

As this developed, the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC) assured undocumented Filipinos here that they will be available to extend help and resources.

If you need someone to talk to or are concerned about your safety, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are ready to help you. If you are looking for ways to help others, you may also contact us,” the FMC said.

The Filipino Migrant Center can be reached through:

FMC members in one of their protest actions Photo © https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiWYKqADhJo
FMC members in one of their protest actions Photo © https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiWYKqADhJo

In a related development, the New America Media and Ready California, a coalition of nonprofits that serve immigrant communities, held a national press call on Thursday (November 10) wherein expert opinions were sought to help immigrants understand the consequences of the elections.

When you look at the popular vote [which Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won], “the majority of Americans did not vote for Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Sally Kinoshita, deputy director of Immigrant Legal Resource Center, adding that the election “is not a reflection of Americans in general and their views of immigrants.”

The following are excerpts from NAM and Ready California national press call:

A challenging time ahead

The election of Trump, a candidate who made fear and xenophobia a central part of his campaign, has spurred advocates to pledge to fight for the dignity of all families.

There’s no doubt we are entering a challenging period. The election was divisive and damaging. We saw hate crimes, hateful rhetoric,” said Kamal Essaheb, national director of policy and advocacy for National Immigration Law Center.

President-Elect Trump has called for unity in his election night speech, but obviously his actions are going to have to speak louder,” Essaheb said.

The most important thing to do now, he said, is to make sure immigrants are prepared and know their rights.

One thing to keep in mind, he said, are the limits of presidential power.

The Constitution protects everyone,” Essaheb said. “Law enforcement has to show you [a warrant to enter your house]. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to call an attorney.”

There are things he can do that will be harmful,” said Essaheb. But, he said, “Trump cannot take away the Constitution. He cannot take away the people’s rights.”

Another thing he can’t take away are state and local laws, such as California’s AB 60, which allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license.

State and city-level policies did not change on Tuesday night,” Essaheb said. “The same opportunities are there; the imperative to act is higher.”

Trump has said that he would repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the executive action taken by President Obama in 2012 that gives certain undocumented immigrants who came here as children access to a work permit.

The president-elect has said that he would eliminate federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” whose policies limit cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities. He has talked about stepping up deportations, with “zero tolerance for criminal aliens.”

Trump has also talked about building a wall, something that experts say is neither practical nor feasible.

Anti-Trump rallyists at the L.A. City Hall Photo © Abner Galino
Anti-Trump rallyists at the L.A. City Hall Photo © Abner Galino

What families can do now

Although it is hard to know exactly what to expect under a Trump administration, there are some steps families can take now to stay safe and plan for their future.

Sally Kinoshita of Immigrant Legal Resource Center noted that Trump is not president until Jan. 20, 2016. Until then, the DACA program remains in effect.

It takes several months for DACA applications to be processed, Kinoshita said, so if people have not applied for DACA, it might be too late.

Trump has said he would get rid of the program; the earliest this would happen is his first day in office.

Renewals, which take eight weeks to be processed, would be much less of a risk, said Kinoshita. Some people are renewing their DACA now while Obama is in office, in order to get a two-year work permit.

Anyone planning to renew DACA now should know that the price for DACA increases to $495 on Dec. 23, 2016. Loans are available through the Mission Asset Fund, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, the Mexican Consulate or local service providers.

Because there is expected to be an increase in enforcement, prioritizing those with criminal records, she said, people should avoid brushes with the law.

Something like a DUI or a drug conviction can have permanent immigration consequences,” Kinoshita said.

Those who live in California can get certain felonies reduced to misdemeanors under Prop 47.

Kinoshita encouraged all immigrants to go to a qualified legal services provider to be screened for other forms of immigration relief.


Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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