Immigrant advocacy groups demanded concrete and immediate action from Pres. Donald Trump following his comments on his immigration plan Tuesday during his first speech before Congress, as until now he has only managed to instill fear with his executive orders.
“I believe that a real and positive immigration reform is possible…if we are guided by the well-being of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” Trump said to a joint session of Congress.
An official source at the White House told EFE Services that the president thinks both Democrats and Republicans have to “soften their positions” if they want immigration reform to happen.
However, the source did not clarify whether the president is open to considering a path to citizenship or legalization for the young beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – a program started by former Pres. Barack Obama that has since protected about 750,000 undocumented immigrants from immigrations, as well as allowing them to work legally in the U.S.
Councilman Gil Cedillo told EGP that he is delighted that the Trump Administration is interested in immigration reform, but “will not [hold his] breath.”
“If this Congress was interested in passing some sort of immigration reform, it would have happened already. Much like the President’s healthcare reform idea, we have yet to see details, or an actual plan…ICE raids and intimidation tactics are not the solution,” Cedillo said in a statement emailed to EGP.
Meanwhile, the Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pledged to keep fighting in favor of immigrants and refugees in court.
“The president’s speech was void and completely divorced from the reality and damage that it has inflicted on the most vulnerable communities in the country,” ACLU said in a statement.
During the speech, Trump referenced Jamiel Shaw II, a young African-American high school student from Los Angeles High School who was murdered by an undocumented gang member in Arlington Heights in 2008. Shaw’s father, who rallied on behalf of Trump during his campaign, was a special guest on Tuesday, along with three other victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
“We must support the victims of crime,” Trump said, adding that through the creation of an office called VOICE, Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement, his administration is “providing a voice to those who have been ignored by the media, and silenced by special interests.”
“Trump continues to label immigrants as criminals, an accusation as fake as it is cruel,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.
Alfonso Aguilar, president of the conservative group Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, declared his support for finding solutions for undocumented immigrants and said in an interview on CNN, “ironically, maybe Trump is the one who can achieve this.”
In his opinion, the president has the confidence of hard-line advocates and could be able to negotiate an agreement.
EGP Staff Writer Stacey Arevalo contributed to this story.
Southland and California elected officials and activists wasted no time today lashing out at President Donald Trump’s executive actions calling for construction of a wall along the Mexican border and slashing funding for so-called “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and substantially beefing up the ranks and enforcement authority of border agents.
“These are serious times that call for serious solutions,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles in response. “Yes, border security is a crucial pillar of comprehensive immigration reform, but a huge wall won’t make us any safer, morally upright, reduce the deficit or energize our economy.
“We need reform that provides real border security, unites families, protects American workers and offers an earned pathway to citizenship — something that Democrats and I will continue to champion in the face of the crazy conservatism of Trump world,” he said.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Trump’s orders will “harm public safety, tear families apart and jeopardize national security.”
“Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall isn’t a solution, it’s a political gesture,” Harris said. “And telling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear.”
Rusty Hicks, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the organization would continue to stand in support of the roughly 1 million immigrants without legal status living in Los Angeles County.
“We have already strengthened protections for immigrant workers in collective bargaining agreements,” Hicks said. “Now, with our state legislators and county Board of Supervisors, we will grow the 100 attorneys we have already organized into a much larger force to make sure every immigrant has a lawyer to defend their rights to a fair process.
“For decades, Los Angeles and California have been stronger, more progressive and more prosperous than the rest of the nation,” he said.
“Unfortunately, President Trump has chosen to take our nation down the dark path of division and exclusion.”
Building a border wall was a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, and he continues to insist that although the United States will be moving ahead with construction, Mexico will ultimately foot the bill — something Mexican leaders have steadfastly denied.
“I’m just telling you there will be a payment,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “It will be in a form — perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.”
California’s new Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, issued a statement saying, “It is important to put these White House executive actions in context.”
According to Becerra, executive orders do not change existing law nor can they contradict existing law. He noted they can be challenged in court for “violating constitutional and legal standards in their enforcement.”
Becerra said his office is “prepared to protect the public safety and general welfare of all Californians as well as their privacy and property rights,” adding the state “will protect the rights of all of its people from unwarranted intrusion from any source, including the federal government.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) called the president’s actions “ deeply troubling.”
“With today’s executive orders, this president has transformed his anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric into destructive action which is intolerant, fiscally irresponsible, and dangerous, Roybal-Allard said, adding it would force “Local jurisdictions will be forced to choose between their share of federal funding and keeping faith with their local communities.”
Pres. Trump has yet to take action on his promise to deport anyone in the country illegally, especially those with criminal backgrounds, or to reverse former president Barack Obama’s executive actions to protect people brought to the country illegally as children, often referred to as Dreamers.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), temporarily normalized the status of more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants, allowing them to legally work in the U.S. among other benefits.
Trump’s supporters believed overturning Obama’s two executive orders would be among his first actions after taking office, and were disappointed his action on the border wall Wednesday did not also include an order to end DACA and DAPA.
Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) said in a written statement Wednesday that he “is encouraged that the Trump Administration and the U.S. Senate are working together to resolve our immigration crisis through consensus legislative action, not executive fiat or alarmist rhetoric.
“Hardcore criminals should rightly be the focus of deportations, not hard-working families and students,” Vidak said.
He said Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has made it clear “Trump has no immediate plans to deport the youngsters, but would instead work with the House and Senate leadership “to get a long-term solution on that issue.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Monday that DACA is “unconstitutional and has to be replaced,” ideally in conjunction with “measurers that ensure that our immigration laws are being enforced.” He said he believes however, that there is broad consensus that Dreamers should not be deported but allowed to stay in the country.
Trump’s actions coincided with the first meeting, scheduled for Wednesday night, of a Los Angeles City Council committee on immigrant affairs.’
Among the items on the panel’s agenda is a reaffirmation of Los Angeles Police Department Special Order 40, which prevents officers from stopping people solely to question them on their immigration status. The department also does not detain people based solely on their immigration status.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, however, said the city does cooperate with immigration authorities, “particularly in cases that involve serious crimes, and always comply with constitutional detainer requests.’’
“What we don’t do is ask local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws, and that’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years,” he said. “That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement.
“Everyone in L.A. should feel safe stepping forward if they have witnessed a crime or been victimized themselves — and immigration status shouldn’t interfere with the cooperation and partnership we need to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Garcetti said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell reinforced that position Wednesday on behalf of his department. McDonnell said the president’s “executive order does not change the mission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Our priority continues to be protecting our public … Our department policy clearly states that our deputies do not ask for one’s immigration status. Immigration enforcement remains a federal responsibility.”