Cortez: Will Santa Ana’s Latino City Council Side With Human Rights Or With ICE and Trump?

As the size the Latino vote grows and anti-immigrant bigots react by sounding their alarms louder and louder, we have been witness to a growing refrain that seeks to channel the energy of one and response to the other into electoral victories for Democrats and an increase in the number of Latinos elected to office at all levels of government.

Time and again we’re told that the answer to what ails us is to stand by in support of the Democratic Party and to help put more Latinos in positions of power—never mind the fact that it is a Democratic president who just launched a series of inhumane raids against women and children as the latest piece of the largest mass deportation campaign in US history, and that a Latina Director of Domestic Policy continues to act as the biggest defender of that campaign.

Tonight, all of this will be front and center in Santa Ana, California.

Over the weekend we learned that Santa Ana’s all-Latino, all-Democratic city council will vote on a proposal to increase the maximum number of LGBTQ and other detainees the city can imprison for ICE at its jail, a facility denounced by the undocumented LGBTQ community which most recently made headlines for the continued abuses and dehumanization its detainees face inside.

The vote set to take place on Tuesday is in many ways a test of seeing if people who look like us in office means Latino and immigrant issues are actually better represented or not. The fact that the proposal is even on the docket is a knock against that theory of change and a reminder that community’s first source of power is when we organize.

Having just experienced a series of traumatic raids; increased attacks and promises of further attacks from Donald Trump and his supporters; and worst of all a doubling down on the part of President Obama to further criminalize, detain, and deport our communities we are looking toward our local governments for leadership more than ever. Offering jail space to ICE is enabling and being an accomplice to its attack on our community. Instead, our expectation is that the City Council put into place policies that welcome, rather than abuse immigrants, and that they demonstrate a commitment to justice and dignity, not detention and abuse.

To this end the Santa Ana City Council should not only reject the expansion of the number of LGBTQ and other immigrants they will hold for ICE in the city jail, but take steps to further disentangle the government of Orange County’s most Latino, most immigrant city by separating the Santa Ana Police Department from the dirty work of deportation. Like Philadelphia did most recently, it should reject ICE’s request to submit to its newest quota-filling program, PEP-comm.

Our community and our families deserve nothing less.

With Donald Trump leading the country in one direction, now is when our city council’s leadership on human and immigrant rights is both being tested and is needed most.

Hairo Cortes is the Program Coordinator of the Orange County Immigrant Youth United. He immigrated to the United States at the age of seven and has been a resident of Santa Ana, CA ever since. Follow on twitter: @HCortes96

  • Jacki Livingston

    I am a huge supporter of the LGBT community. I also believe that separating families with children by deporting parents is inhuman and beneath us. But, Mr. Cortes, you really need to have some cheese with your whine. The fact is, as un-PC as it may sound, illegal immigrants are breaking the law. The overwhelmingly high percentage are from Mexico and further into Central and South America. They have exploited geography to violate the borders of a sovereign nation. They are well aware of the felony nature of this crime, and they risk it, anyway. *raises hand* I don’t want to argue about the horrible conditions they are fleeing. I empathize. I don’t want to hear any of that nonsensical hooey about this used to be their land. Yeah, so what? England was once a territory of Rome. Should Italian citizens be able to just go there and be citizens? No. Are there things that the USA could and should do to help our southern neighbors in bettering the situation there? Absolutely, it is in our best interests. Also, I do recognize that Hispanic illegal citizens serve in our military, pay taxes, etc…HOWEVER, they also put an enormous strain on our finite resources. As a caseworker at SSA, I saw this first hand. Illegal immigrants cannot get food stamps, cash aid or any MediCal except for emergencies or pregnancy (with one large exception, which I will discuss in a moment). However, they can receive those things for their citizen children and spouses. They can obtain Section 8 vouchers if even one person in the household is a citizen. Many young, working couples wait to have kids, because they do not qualify for assistance. So why should illegals, who are committing a crime, be able to drop a couple on the public dime, and get aid? My grandson’s school class is overwhelmed by non-citizen kids who speak no English, and his education is suffering for it. Is that fair?

    I would be willing to bet that most citizens of the OC are not aware that illegal aliens can be given full scope MediCal, if they are in a nursing home. Yuuuuup. Grandma comes over for a “visit”. Granny has a stroke, they put her in a nursing facility for care that ranges from seven to seventy thousand dollars per month, for as long as she lives. I had clients who never worked here, never paid any taxes or served in the military, never owned property. But the County of Orange foots the bill for their hospital and nursing home care. I had one lady who was in for 23 years, at about 12 grand a month, average. You do the math. Ours is a generous country. We have long been the ones who stepped up to help, when the world is in trouble. So, before you ask us to blow up the balloons at your pity party, you might want to be honest, in acknowledging that we are a sovereign nation, and we have the absolute right to control our borders. By the exploitation of geography, illegal immigrants from Latin America have hurt the citizens of other countries, around the world, who apply, do the work, pay the fees and wait their turn to LEGALLY come here. Because of illegals, we have to restrict legal immigration and that is not just or right. And, please do not start the “we don’t come here for the freebies” nonsense, because I have had waaaaaaay too many clients tell me how flyers and booklets are passed out to those coming here, before they leave home, telling them where and how to get those freebies, and what they are entitled to. Mexico, in particular, is taking advantage of the nursing home exceptions, and moving their indigent and disabled citizens here in droves, to ease the burden on their own budgets. That is not right. We need to find solutions to complex problems. But I have no intention of crying in my cocoa or giving you cheese and crackers with your whine, because you think that our enforcement of the LAW is not fair. A fair is something you go to in July. Eat pie. Ride rides. Get a blue ribbon. It is not life.

  • LFOldTimer

    Any person who promotes open borders and massive illegal immigration into America from some of the poorest nations on earth should get down on their hands and knees and kiss Obama’s feet. Good Lord…don’t bite the hand that feeds you. All 3rd world banana republics should erect a bronze statue of Obama at their respective nation’s capital at the entrance of their congressional buildings. America has been a very friendly safety value.

  • David Zenger

    “…the undocumented LGBTQ community”

    Community? Really?

  • Paul Lucas

    Very well written article. You should be aware that the City has become dependent on the revenues from ICE-Beds for Feds. That will be the guiding principle that the city will decide this issue.

    • LFOldTimer

      So has the County. The entire system is schizophrenic. The local jailers are forced to turn illegals who committed crimes back out on the streets since California’s Trust Act forbids them from transferring the illegals over to the Fed for deportation but other illegals they hold for the Feds so they can make a profit off them. The prison system is big business. Much bigger than the drug business while probably 70% of inmates are incarcerated directly or indirectly for drug offenses. If they closed all prisons in America the unemployed prison workers would push the unemployment rate over 30%.

      • Paul Lucas

        You got guys like Lou correa to thank for that. he screws over regular union workers while carrying water for the LEO and Prison guard unions. To me they are all a state sanctioned Human Trafficking organization.