Activists Want ICE Out of L.A.'s Eastside, Northeast Communities
File photo by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Activists Want ICE Out of L.A.'s Eastside, Northeast Communities

Following the Feb. 13 detention of immigrant Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez after he dropped off his 13-year-old daughter at school in Lincoln Heights, activists in the Eastside and Northeast sections of the city have rallied to start an "ICE Out of CD1" campaign that has received the endorsement of an influential city leader.

ICE refers to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CD1 is Council District 1, the Eastside and Northeast L.A. base of city Councilman Gil Cedillo. This week, he embraced the effort to give the boot to the Trump administration's deportation forces.

"We have to fight back by going about our business, and living our daily lives without fear," Cedillo said during the ICE Out of CD1 launch event this week. "I cannot stress enough how important it is to be present. I know many people are scared. Let’s turn that fear into action."

Some of the people behind the movement want to take it beyond being a slogan. They want the City Council to solidify noncooperation between the Los Angeles Police Department and ICE by formally declaring L.A. to be a sanctuary city. After the election of President Trump and a subsequent crackdown on the undocumented, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has vowed repeatedly not to have his troops enforce immigration law.

The ICE Out of CD1 crowd, which modeled the name after the ICE Out of Los Angeles movement that targeted L.A. County Sheriff's Department cooperation with the feds, wants a sanctuary-city ordinance to go further by prohibiting cops from serving on task forces with ICE and from sharing information on possibly undocumented arrestees with immigration officials. "The biggest, most important thing is a clear, bright line between what city police do and what ICE does," says Tessie Borden of the group Indivisible Highland Park.

"We want no cooperation at all, no sharing information, no joint actions," she says.

Last night, Cedillo's office said the councilman likely would make just such a proposal this week. It's not clear if the rest of the council has an appetite for such an ordinance. Activists are counting on three core council members, Cedillo, Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, to carry this torch. Mayor Eric Garcetti's approval could be a long shot. When it comes to proclaiming L.A. a sanctuary city, "He has danced around it," says Scott Doyle, a member of Indivisible Highland Park.

The mayor has been quick to correct those who call L.A. a sanctuary city. "We've never declared ourself a sanctuary city," he said earlier this year. "I'm still not sure what one is."

Asked if the mayor would support such legislation, mayoral spokesman Alex Comisar said this via email: "Mayor Garcetti is committed to protecting Los Angeles' immigrant community, and he welcomes the discussion of how we can do more to keep families together, and neighborhoods safe."

The ICE Out of CD1 crowd argues that it would be politically advantageous to be pro–sanctuary city at a time when Trump and his immigration policies are widely loathed in Los Angeles. Trump administration threats to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities have so far turned out to be toothless, according to Borden. "The threat is rather empty," she says.

"There are folks who feel these kinds of sanctuary ordinances are symbolic," she says. "We don't see them as such. We hope that Mayor Garcetti is supportive. Perhaps 'sanctuary city' has become a controversial term. Whatever they end up calling it, it's more important about what the ordinance actually does. We're willing to work with him."

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