The Trump administration’s vow to deport people living in the United States illegally, and subsequent raids by Immigration and Customers Enforcement agents in Los Angeles and across the country, have sparked protests mingled with fear, uncertainty, and anger.
Those emotions are driven the prospect of longtime residents being forced to leave the country and families being torn apart. Others, however, view President Donald Trump’s words and the deportations as a long overdue enforcement of existing laws designed to protect American citizens.
What seems to be clear, however, is that confusion reigns.
While ICE officials described raids in February as “routine,” according to reports, a number of state and local officials have demanded more clarity on federal deportation policy. Many law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, have also said they will not take part in any mass deportations.
According to data released last month by the Pew Research Center, there are 1 million people living illegally in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Immigrants – both those who arrived legally and illegally – are deeply ingrained in the L.A. community and have ever since the arrival of the city’s original “pobladores,” or townsfolk, in 1781. Even those settlers brought a variety of cultural backgrounds with them as half claimed either American Indian, African, or Spanish ancestry.
Fast forwarding to today’s civic landscape, immigrants inhabit jobs in all aspects and all levels of the local economy, from manufacturing to agriculture to hospitality. A rash overhaul of immigration policy and a surge in deportations would undeniably harm many L.A. businesses, and indeed those in every major U.S. city, as immigrants have consistently proven they are willing to take jobs Americans don’t want to do.
What’s needed most of all is a clear, coherent, plan from the administration rather than grand pronouncements, one that blends a path to citizenship with national security. ICE also needs to better communicate its intentions with business leaders so they can take appropriate action while also informing immigrant employees of their rights.
Emotions are running high, and more information would at the very least help everyone on both sides of the issue plot a course of action.
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