The fear remains.
Whether we are citizens or not, whether our parents or brothers or sisters are in danger of deportation or not, whether we are allies or activists or ignorant of the ongoing immigration impasse, whether we are Californians or Arizonans, we should all be afraid. The monster is still lurking in our midst. A monster of discrimination and gross injustice, who swallows up families and lays waste to homes and entire neighborhoods. The Monster is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It is the ICE Monster, and, though it has been at least wounded in California, it is still terrorizing too many of our communities across the nation.
Secure Communities (S-Comm), the national program linking local police with federal immigration authorities, is doing the opposite of what its name implies; it is ripping communities to pieces. Perhaps no other federal program is as offensively euphemistic or as socially destructive as S-Comm. Thanks in part to this program, the national rate of deportations has soared to more 400,000 men, women and children a year. That's approaching 2 million people deported just under the Obama administration. But the inhumanity and devastation don't stop there. Our communities are shot through with fear, filled with broken families and orphaned children, and populated by innocent hardworking people, including victims of crimes, who are scared of the police. The numbers of persons and families and communities abused by this program are uncountable, but their stories present powerful testimony to the inhumanity perpetrated by local police and the federal government. Activists at Dream Team Los Angeles (DTLA), one of many fiercely dedicated groups, pushed Governor Brown to listen to some of these stories. Along with several partners, DTLA launched a video and campaign that dramatizes the horror that many children of deported parents go through, collecting personal pleas calling on Governor Brown to sign the Trust Act and end the cruelty.
On October 5th, Governor Brown finally got the message and did the right thing, signing the TRUST Act into law. You can watch the videos and testimonies here www.stoptheicemonster.org
and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqd6MXLQqjI
What the TRUST Act will effectively do (beginning this January) is, in part, limit the ties between police and federal immigration authorities, freeing local police officers to concentrate on doing their job--protecting the community--and not acting as immigration officers and instilling fear into our communities. The bill will make sure that people who are arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses are not held for extra time so that ICE can sweep them up in its deportation dragnet. This includes people like Juana Reyes, held in the local jail for 13 days and nearly deported for selling tamales outside of a Sacramento Wal-Mart. People like Isaura Garcia, a survivor of domestic violence arrested by mistake and nearly deported -though she had been merely calling for help.
S-Comm overwhelmingly targets low-level offenders. Up to 70% of those who are apprehended and held for deportation in California, according to ICE's own statistics, either have minor convictions or none at all. And yet our federal officers trap mothers and fathers in local jails for days or weeks, in effect ripping them out of their children's arms, humiliating, robbing (personal testimonies of theft abound), imprisoning and deporting them.
Now that Brown has signed the bill, we need to push other states to start standing up to federal abuse and passing TRUST Acts of their own.
Yes, the ICE Monster is still lurking in 48 states (Connecticut has passed similar legislation). Despite the victory in California, it is still racking up victims. According to a report in Colorlines "nearly 250,000 parents of US Citizens were deported in the past two years." That is a quarter million more young American citizens without parents, in two years alone. Adopting the TRUST Act in other states will put a quick end to much of this madness, stopping tens of thousands (or more) of our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers from being deported. California is taking a stand, saying that this country will not be defined the anti-immigrant prejudice exemplified by Arizona or Alabama.
Yes, we should all be afraid of the ICE Monster, but those undocumented amongst us have a lot more to fear than those of us with papers. And that unequal injustice is a fact that should terrify every single one of us.
A message to the Governors of every other state in the nation: Do the right thing. Save your families. Save your communities. Introduce a TRUST Act in your own state.