Yesterday President Trump issued executive orders to create his long-promised border wall and to pull federal funding from cities that won't cooperate with his plan to deport millions of people here illegally.
Immigrants in Los Angeles County, home to one in 10 undocumented people in the United States, are of course freaking out.
Some Spanish-language news organizations “are being bombarded with calls,” says Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “People are frantic.”
Many people are worried they'll be deported because they're here illegally. Some have enjoyed protection under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; others are in the process of trying to obtain documentation, pro-immigrant organizers say.
“We're telling people to stay calm and wait until we decipher what these orders mean for the community,” Cabrera says. “We're prepared to fight back. We're not going to let Mr. Trump get away with this.”
Tessie Borden, speaking for the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, which helps people facing deportation, says, “There's a lot of fear in the community.
“All the public-interest immigration law firms are probably hearing from people whose cases are being processed right now,” she adds. “I think this is the kind of thing that has to be countered in the streets, in the courts, everywhere.”
Trump has vowed to deport at least 3 million undocumented people who, he says, have criminal backgrounds. Fact checkers have found that the number Trump cites for undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds is inflated.
In his first formal statement to the press as California's new attorney general, Xavier Becerra sought to calm the nerves of immigrants worried about their future.
“Executive orders do not change existing law,” he stated. “And executive orders can be challenged for violating constitutional and legal standards in their enforcement.
“The California Department of Justice (DOJ) is prepared to protect the public safety and general welfare of all Californians, as well as their privacy and property rights,” Becerra continued. “These are rights and protections which have survived numerous legal challenges over time. And they are grounded on our federal and state constitutions, not on an executive pronouncement.”