California ground zero on immigrant struggle

Gathering of TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, Ghana, and their supporters the day before class-action suit is filed. Liberation photo: Gloria La Riva
Gathering of TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, Ghana, and their supporters the day before class-action suit is filed. Liberation photo: Gloria La Riva

Trump’s first official visit to California comes on the heels of his mass deportation sweeps and other attacks against immigrants from Latin American, Caribbean and African countries, including a federal lawsuit against California, targeted raids in the state and renewed plans for border repression.

Activists are defiantly fighting back with protests, organizing campaigns and legal action, from Sacramento to San Diego.

On March 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a lawsuit against California as he spoke in Sacramento to the ill-named California Peace Officers Association. He is demanding that the state and local police agencies — as well as employers — cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, in its investigations and deportations of immigrant communities.

California’s sanctuary laws prohibit companies from showing employees’ work information to ICE feds without a warrant. They also limit state agencies from sharing information with ICE about immigrants unless they are convicted of felonies.

Days earlier, anticipating raids in the Bay Area, hundreds of activists surrounded San Francisco’s ICE headquarters on February 28 with a dramatic shutting down of all four intersections throughout the day.

And on March 12, in a major class action in San Francisco, lawyers filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security to seek reversal of Trump’s cancellation of the Temporary Protection Status. The attorneys are from the ACLU and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and many plaintiffs are members of the National TPS Alliance.

TPS struggle

The plaintiffs are not only TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua. The suit includes the more than 200,000 U.S.-born minor-age children of those adults, who would face a cruel family separation if they remain in the U.S. while their parents are deported.

The principal plaintiff is 14-year-old Crista Ramos, a U.S. citizen born in California. Her mother, Cristina Morales, 37, is from El Salvador and has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. Yet, she faces possible deportation with the TPS demise.

The fundamental right of a family to be together is threatened by the TPS demise.

The suit states that DHS “violates the constitutional rights of school-age United States citizen children of TPS holders, by presenting them with an impossible choice: they must either leave their country or live without their parents.”

The TPS termination directly affects 400,000 recipients who face deportation if the government’s action is not halted, including those from Honduras whose TPS is expected to be cancelled in the future.

Immediately vulnerable are some 200,000 TPS holders who face imminent ban from working or living in the United States.

The Trump administration has continued to spew vicious racist lies in his attacks on immigrants and refugees. But his infamous remarks may help undo his anti-TPS order.

The suit states that the new anti-TPS rule is “motivated by intentional race- and national-origin-based animus against individuals from what President Trump has referred to as ‘shithole countries.’ It arises from the Trump Administration’s repeatedly-expressed racism toward non-white, non-European people from other countries.”

ICE spokesperson resigns rather than lie for ICE

In related news, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in San Francisco resigned, saying he could not back false claims made by Jeff Sessions and ICE officials. James Schwab objected to a claim by ICE deputy director Thomas D. Homan that a warning by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf to the community of imminent ICE raid, had helped “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats.”

Schwab told CNN, “I just couldn’t bear the burden — continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false.”

The northern California raids are widely understood as having targeting the Bay Area for its particularly strong sanctuary policies and strong pro-immigrant support.

For background on the TPS cancellation by Trump, read Trump deals new blow to TPS immigrants and What the end of TPS means: a historical and personal perspective.



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