July 12, 2019 at 1:00 pm PDT | by Karen Ocamb
‘Lights for Liberty’ rally in WeHo Friday night protesting ICE raids

After the news media and elected officials reported on the inhumane conditions in which the Trump-Pence Administration is warehousing migrant children and adults fleeing poverty and violence in Central and South America and the announcement of ICE raids this Sunday, the American people are starting to stand up and say, “Not in my name!”

ROAR, a local activist group led by Abbe Land and Michael Ferrera, is sponsoring a rally in West Hollywood Friday night as part of the nationwide movement called Lights for Liberty.

The rally in West Hollywood Park starts at 8:00pm with speakers West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, Councilmembers John Duran, John Heilman, and Lauren Meister, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, CHIRLA’s Melody Klingenfuss, as well as immigration attorneys and civil rights advocates.

The Trump-Pence Administration’s fear-mongering of Latinos and abject cruelty towards migrant families has intensified over the past weeks with Trump’s “white GOP” fixation in putting a citizenship question on the upcoming US Census and how the ICE raids were announced, eliminating the element of surprise.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, when Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf last year alerted her residents of an impending ICE raid, Trump called the tip-off a “disgrace” and a GOP member of Congress from Iowa “proposed criminal penalties for officials in so-called sanctuary cities who make similar disclosures.”

Different standards apply to Donald Trump. “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted on June 17.

That nationwide raid was postponed until this Sunday when ICE is expected to descend on 9 cities, including Los Angeles. New Orleans was apparently taken off the list after local officials noted that the region would be overwhelmed with Tropical Storm Barry. Human rights advocates also noted that undocumented immigrants, even in families with US citizens, would not heed evacuation orders for fear of being swept up by ICE—especially after reports that there could be “collateral” arrests of anyone nearby.

The ACLU is suing to stop the raids targeting 2,000 immigrants, claiming they violate due process procedures, noting that some warrants for arrest were issued based on faults within the system.

“Even when the government sent notices to the right address for a real hearing, it repeatedly sent them too late, for locations unreasonably far from immigrants’ homes,” the ACLU lawsuit says. “Notices thus arrived either after the date set for a hearing or just a few days before, requiring indigent families to immediately travel across the country to hearings in distant states.”

LA-based attorney Brad Philipps, who is involved in the ACLU lawsuit, said the ICE raids would be “inhumane.”

“The Trump administration’s plan to send families and children who came to this country seeking refuge from violence and abuse in their home countries back to those places, without so much as one opportunity to show a judge they are entitled under U.S. law to stay, is fundamentally at odds with what this nation stands for,” Philipps said in a statement. “We hope by this lawsuit to stop the administration’s unjust and inhumane plan in its tracks.”

But ICE is adamant. “As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” Matthew D. Bourke, an ICE spokesman, said in a statement on Thursday.  “However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and — if found removable by final order — removal from the United States.”

Some ICE agents are not waiting for Sunday, nor, apparently, do they care about proper procedure, according to gay immigration attorney Andrew Reback.

“Mr. “Z” (name withheld) was arrested by ICE agents at his home and separated from his wife and three children early Thursday morning,” Reback says in a press release. “ICE Agents threatened Z at his home, confiscated his personal belongings (including passports and important immigration paperwork), and detained Z for nearly ten hours at a jail like facility. During detention, Z was constantly told he would be Removed (Deported) because his B-2 Tourist Visa had expired. This was false — as Z had two other legal bases to remain in the United States.”

Z holds a valid E-2 Investor Visa Status and employs eight Americans at a popular San Diego area eatery, Reback says. Additionally, Z has a valid pending affirmative Asylum application.

Reback “pleaded with ICE and DHS to review Z’s file, as in it was clear proof that he was here legally,” he says. “ICE initially refused. ICE officers and DHS attorneys further admitted via telephone that the raid was approved, and executed, and that Z was incarcerated before such a review. In other words, DHS arrested someone who is here legally – without being bothered to review his file first,” or contact his attorney of record.

“They just told me my Asylum case had been taking too long, and they did not care when I told them about my E-2 Visa” said Z. “I was following all the Immigration laws right, and they still wanted to deport me until my Attorney showed them they were wrong.”

Strenuous efforts are being made to inform immigrants of their rights—including by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, agents do not have the legal right to enter a home. If ICE agents don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, a person may refuse to open the door and let them in,” Pelosi at her weekly press conference.

“Families belong together,” she added. “Every person in America has rights.”

California House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed the raids are a result of Pelosi refusing to negotiate with Trump.

“I think if the president actually saw the House actually taking action, he probably would delay even further to make sure the [immigration] problem gets solved,” McCarthy said. “It is the speaker who is causing this problem.”

The Los Angeles Blade has posted “know your rights” list of resources, noting that LGBT people, especially trans women seeking asylum, are particularly vulnerable.

Equality California has also distributed information, working in coalition with other groups, highlighting the search engine at Informedimmigrant.com. Oasis Legal Services provides help specifically to the LGBT community.

Executive Director Rick Zbur says:

“These blatant attacks on our immigrant communities are racist, ruthless and reprehensible. As Speaker Pelosi said, they are part of this Administration’s attempt to ‘Make America White Again,’ and we will not stand idly by as the president attacks our families or our democracy. Immigrant rights are LGBTQ rights, and LGBTQ rights are immigrant rights.

“We will fight for the America we believe in — an America that doesn’t rip children from their parents or lock them in cages, an America that celebrates our diversity rather than deriding it and an America that tells everyone that they count, regardless of the color of their skin or where they were born.”

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