As Trump Presidency Looms, OC’s Immigrant Advocates Prepare for the Worst

An activist opposed to the expansion of a Santa Ana jail contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement is interviewed by a reporter with the Spanish-language station Estrella TV.

Adam Elmahrek/Voice of OC

An activist opposed to the expansion of a Santa Ana jail contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement is interviewed by a reporter with the Spanish-language station Estrella TV.

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In the week since President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking Election Day victory, immigrant-rights advocates throughout Orange County have begun mobilizing to prepare people in one of the nation’s most vulnerable immigrant communities for what will assuredly be a harsher stance from Washington D.C. regarding their rights to live and work in this country.

While Trump has in the days since the election backed away from his campaign pledge to deport all 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., he is still vowing to remove up to three million who have committed crimes.

“On January 21 we cannot promise anybody that the law isn’t going to change…even for legal permanent residents,” said Julio Perez, executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation, which held a press conference last week condemning Trump and announcing a series of workshops to help legal residents apply for citizenship.

The county is home to an estimated 300,000 unauthorized immigrants and 170,000 legal permanent residents who are eligible for naturalization, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

And an estimated 18 percent of Orange County children have at least one unauthorized parent and 53 percent have an immigrant parent, according to a 2014 joint report by the University of California, Irvine and University of Southern California.

The Labor Federation has launched an early effort to encourage legal permanent residents to naturalize, with the fear that new policies could make it more difficult for those even with legal residency to remain in the United States or acquire citizenship.

It is also planning to canvass neighborhoods in Anaheim and Santa Ana to raise awareness of resources for unauthorized immigrants.

“It’s only a matter of time before they’re talking about legal immigrants,” said Jose Moreno, president of Los Amigos of Orange County and a candidate for Anaheim City Council, in a phone interview. “Bill Clinton agreed to immigration reform in 1996 – including taking away access to programs for legal residents…so that’s where they may start.”

Nearly 100 people turned out Wednesday evening for a hastily arranged informational meeting hosted by the Public Law Center at Latino Health Access in Santa Ana. During the meeting, attorneys provided general legal advice about the potential future of President Obama’s programs that provide protection from deportation, work permits and pathways to legal residency for unauthorized youth or the unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens.

The somber event drew teenagers, young parents and grandparents, all listening intently as attorneys gave guidance about risks of applying for the federal government’s deportation protection programs before Trump’s inauguration. They are called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

Attorneys warned that applying for either program would mean providing their home address and personal information to immigration authorities, and there is no guarantee their information would not be used to deport them.

Mary Anne Foo, executive director of Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance, said the organization has fielded calls from clients who are concerned about the status of their DACA or DAPA applications, and those concerned about whether they would lose their health coverage under Obamacare.

Fourteen percent of the state’s undocumented population is Asian-American, with South Korean, Filipino and Chinese communities among the most impacted.

“We’ve had a lot of calls to our mental health counselors about fear – people who are afraid, whose friends have been attacked verbally, families where children are afraid,” said Foo.

State and Local Protections

One positive for unauthorized immigrants living in California is they are likely to be among the most protected in the nation. Officials in a number of cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have reaffirmed their jurisdictions as sanctuary cities and say they will continue to defy federal immigration authorities, despite threats from Trump that he will cut off their federal funding.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, members of the Santa Ana City Council majority declared Santa Ana a sanctuary city that will refuse to cooperate with deportations.

“The other side has been so bold to spout out hatred and division, said Councilman David Benavides. “I think we need to be bold…and take the stance that this is a sanctuary city. This is a place where our community is safe and…we’re going to stand with them.”

State legislators from both houses have also issued a joint letter, in English and Spanish, stating that it would defend its laws from threat of rollback by Trump.

Additionally, since 2014, the state has had legislation that limits the use of local jails for immigration holds and allows unauthorized immigrants who are the victims or witnesses to crimes to be able to cooperate with police without fear of deportation.

Progressive groups are pushing local public schools – which are required under federal law to provide public education to all children regardless of immigration status — to become places where unauthorized immigrants and their families can access information and support without fear of referral to immigration authorities.

The Anaheim Union High School District, through its spokeswoman Patricia Karlak, said it will work with community advocates to “develop a supportive plan for our undocumented students and families,” including emotional support and information on deferred action programs and power of attorney.

At a meeting of the Latino civic club Los Amigos of Orange County Wednesday morning, Teresa Mercado-Cota, assistant dean at Santa Ana College, recalled the fear, shock and anxiety from students and professors at a recent college forum. “I think cities and schools need to formalize that they are sanctuaries,” she sai

Groups like the Labor Federation, OCCORD, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice and American Civil Liberties Union are also planning workshops to educate unauthorized immigrants about their constitutional rights when approached or detained by immigration officials, and to prevent fraud by notarios (immigration consultants) and others claiming to be immigration attorneys.

Fears of Increased Racism

With the results of the election still fresh, members Los Amigos Wednesday, who are of many ethnic backgrounds, discussed their fears of not only changes to immigration policy, but growing division and racism.

Zeke Hernandez, president of the Santa Ana chapter #147 of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said he has received calls about bullying and verbal harassment in school yards and on streets.

“I have heard from so many people, ‘never before have I been so disrespected,’” he said.

A 50-year-old man and former U.S. Marine who goes by the name Plumas, meaning “feathers” in Spanish, recalled times throughout his life that he was called a “dirty Mexican” or the child of “wetbacks.”

He recalled recent months spent working in Newport Beach, where he said he was spit on and called racial slurs.

“I’ve never pulled the race card…but after my experience in Newport I can’t [claim] that what our people have gone through has ended,” said Plumas.

Moreno said the threat of deportation isn’t new for many Latinos.

“While Trump is threatening to deport three million people, Obama did deport three million people,” Moreno said, alluding to the more than 2.5 million people who have been deported during Obama’s two terms in office.

Hairo Cortez-Palacio, program coordinator for Orange County Immigrant Youth United, said the group is focusing its efforts on protecting the deferred action programs and lobbying local government.

“It means resisting attempts to crack down [by the federal government] while also pushing for local action that creates stronger protections for the immigrant community,” Cortez-Palacio said.

Obama’s deferred action programs came after a nationwide push by immigrant rights groups and by unauthorized youth to demand comprehensive immigration reform and pathways to residency and citizenship for the undocumented.

“Now is not the time to go back into the shadows. If there’s anything we’ve learned, the more people are involved in the local community and open about their status…the easier it is to come to their aid and defense.”

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Ed Romero

    If Trump wants to deport anyone, he should begin with all THOSE IMMIGRANT Wife’s of his.

    • LFOldTimer

      Apparently you’re confused about the difference between a LEGAL immigrant and an ILLEGAL immigrant. There is a difference, you know. All nations have immigration laws and an orderly means to allow LEGAL immigrants into their nations.

      I don’t know anybody who has a problem with LEGAL immigration, as long as we have adequate jobs to satisfy the LEGAL immigrants entering the country.

      You see, Ed. Immigration is supposed to benefit the HOST nation – not hurt it. And the host nation is supposed to decide which immigrants to allow within it’s borders. Importing poverty and illiteracy never produced prosperity for any nation.

      If importing poverty and illiteracy produced prosperity every 1st world nation on the globe would be sending cargo ships to the 4 corners of the earth to bring the poor and the illiterate back home.

      Oh, Trump’s wife happens to be a LEGAL immigrant. Perhaps you were unaware of that.

      I hope my explanation makes sense to you.

      • annomouse

        Ah, the humorlessness of the right.
        That’s the reason all the good comedians are liberal.

  • kburgoyne

    A friend mentioned apparently Donald lost in Republican OC. I haven’t taken the time to research it myself since it obviously doesn’t change anything. Mostly it’s just interesting to note.

  • Bert Ashland

    You sound like Henny Penny, Chicken LicK
    en or Chicken Little….”THE SKY IS FALLING!”

  • LFOldTimer

    I see that Trump just nominated Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama for Attorney General.

    All illegal immigrant advocates who believe illegal foreign gang members with long rap sheets should be allowed to remain in the country should be very concerned.

    • annomouse

      As well as any AMERICAN of color or minority status. Shameful pick!
      But when you elect a racist you have to expect racists in the cabinet.
      Jeff Sessions couldn’t be confirmed as a judge back in the 80’s because of his racist comments, this is a HUGE step backwards for the country.

      • ProudBrown

        He is not a racist. He wants to make sure the law is followed.

        • annomouse

          The problem is he gets to pick and choose which laws.
          He’s anti civil rights, anti civil liberties and a hard-liner on drug enforcement, all of which impact minorities the most.

          • LFOldTimer

            You have quite an imagination. You make stuff up as you go along. lol.

        • Roderick Powell

          “He” is not specific. Trump is the face of racism. Most of his “picks” so far seem to have racist histories. You appear to be blindly loyal and in denial. You also probably think Trump being a real lowlife on many levels, is ok, because he is going to give you whatever you want . The odds are slim that he will deliver. I will tell you and others “I told you so”, that is if I can handle the stench that surrounds you and the bumblebrains. Expect all you know to remind you daily…”what on earth were you thinking when you voted for someone like Trump”. Truly sad. And yes, I am crying…because I love my country and am ashamed at what you all have done to it.

          • LFOldTimer

            A President who wants to prevent illegal invaders or terrorists from entering the country does not = the definition of a ‘racist’. Sorry.

            Foreign invaders and terrorists come in all colors, shapes, genders and sizes.

            The laws that Trump wants to finally enforce apply to all foreigners – coming from both the southern and the northern borders. E-Verify applies to all foreigners who are in the country illegally and intend to steal jobs from US citizens. Not that difficult to figure out.

            So using the “R” word might get some attention in drama school these days but the word has been diluted down to the point that it has no real meaning left for the common man anymore. It barely raises an eyebrow.

            As far as “I told you so” – we’ve been saying that since Nov 08. I doubt you’ll ever have the same opportunity. Trump will succeed despite all the liberal butthurt in the air.

            I find it laughable that prior to Nov 08 all the liberals demanded Trump to pledge that he would accept the outcome of the election. And now that Hillary got beat fair and square the hypocrite liberals are using threats against the various members of the Electoral College to overturn the vote of the people. Hilarious.

          • annomouse

            Trump’s racism goes beyond his immigrant scapegoating. He has a history of racist behavior going back to the 70’s when he and his father were sued, not once but twice for housing discrimination against blacks.
            There’s a reason why WHITE POWER groups like the KKK are attracted to and celebrating Trump, as they say …. birds of a feather flock together.

          • LFOldTimer

            Is that the reason Kanye West told us that he didn’t vote in the election but had he voted it would have been for Trump?

            Why would Kanye vote for a racist? Hmmm?

            Kanye should be given an award for having the guts to publicly voice an opinion that runs counter to the ones who attend his shows. He has my respect.

            In my experience the liberals are the biggest racists of all.

          • annomouse

            “Why would Kanye vote for a racist? Hmmm?”

            Kanye went on to say:

            “I loved [Trump’s] approach. It be like, white people that’s racist, running around saying nigg* now. If people are racist and they feel more inspired to say how they feel, then they’re exposing themselves, bro. This is what I’m saying. It’s already the beginning of change. Sometimes things that you might think are bad need to happen, in order for change to f*cking happen.”

            http://www.snopes.com/2016/11/18/kanye-west-tells-audience-he-would-have-voted-for-donald-trump/#!

            So you agree with Kanye that it’s a good thing that white racists are exposing themselves and that having the “bad” (aka Trump) happen can be a catalyst for change? LOL!

            Still loving you some Kanye, bro?

          • LFOldTimer

            The logic escapes me. So if David Duke or the Grand Wizard of the KKK ran for POTUS Kanye would support and vote for them because they are upfront about their racist beliefs? I think you may have missed the message that Kanye meant to convey.

            You need to let go of your butthurt, annomouse. Your candidate lost fair and square. And you will have to mouth the words “President Trump” on 01/20/2017 or live in denial. If anybody failed the black population it was Obama. Nearly 700 homicides (mostly blacks) in Chicago so far in 2016 and Obama refuses to even talk about it let alone do something to stop it. I guess that makes him a racist. 😉 Don’t forget, Obama is half white after all.

          • annomouse

            I don’t give a flying f*ck about the election, all I want to do now is hold Trump accountable for every single thing that he does and every single thing that goes wrong in the world just like you folks have done with Obama and HRC.

            Turn about is fair play … get used to it.

          • LFOldTimer

            “I don’t give a flying f*ck about the election…..”

            LOL.

          • annomouse

            Yeah, it’s yesterday’s news. I know you Trumpers want to gloat and lord it over everyone for as long as possible but us grownups move on and deal with what is.
            And what is, is that we’ve got an overtly corrupt POTUS-elect to be watchdoggin’.

            Hey, how’d you like your boy paying 25 MILLION for DEFRAUDING people?
            Making you proud yet, him shafting the little people?

            What a great guy lol.

          • LFOldTimer

            Yeah, I can tell that you’re really acting like a grownup.

            LOL.

          • Roderick Powell

            LFOldTimer You are a lowlife coward. Be a man, let’s meet. I would like to educate you. Show your face coward. People like you are going to force a civil war. Then I can educate you on manners. Oh wait, you would be one of the cowards hiding. You are nothing but a cowardly anonymous sh** spewing mouth..Comprende?

          • LFOldTimer

            ha. What brought that on, Roderick? Let’s meet? Lowlife coward? I’m going to start a civil war? Are you going Kanye on us or something?

            If you can’t handle a diversity of opinions and tolerate other viewpoints that might be different from your own it’s probably best to stay off the discussion board where a variety of ideas are shared.

            Remember…good liberals are supposed to embrace diversity and differences.

            Chill.

          • Roderick Powell

            LFOld Timer… I find your condescending attitude pathetic! You exemplify all that is WRONG in this country!

          • LFOldTimer

            Nothing makes a human being madder than the truth, Roderick.

        • Roderick Powell

          To ProudBrown I will give you credit for showing your face. Most of these other addicted to blogging folks would tone it down a lot if their name and picture came with their posts. Most of them just like to argue, switching constantly back and forth on their positions. I will reiterate this however. Donald J. Trump has spent his entire life as a flagrant racist. We now have a shameless bigot in the highest office in this land. That this conman/cult like sociopath snowed over so many vulnerable victims exposes the lack of real common sense intelligence that most of us have. This was all just a game to Trump. He proved he would do ANYTHING to win. For the sake of winning alone. In the end Trump will go down in history as the biggest “goof” in history. Hopefully we all survive. We all should be in fear and out protesting. Not as crybabies (as the extremely poor winners decry) but as people who are fighting for or country while it is under siege by racist extremists who are borderline certifiable. Lastly, If Trump wanted to make sure the law is followed, he would follow it himself. His law breaking, in many forms, will be exposed. He has fired up to many people who have the means to expose his criminality.

    • Fausto Sandoval

      LFOldTimer your ideals and raw justified unfiltered evil make up the very core of what destroys our nation. The same thinking that is behind so many we slaughter overseas behind a blight fear that makes Americans believe they are threatened. It is also the demise of every single American who can’t have nice things. Nations across the globe see it so clearly.. Why is the most powerful, advanced, bountlessly resourceful nation spending 60% of It’s tax revenue on military? Not only is it absurd it is the cause behind every threat real or fantasy. It will drive our great nation into its inevitable collapse just like every single supremely powerful nation in history has before us. Causing you to be niave, selfish, and justifiably evil. Everyone to be transically frustrated while the world screams “it’s the killing and subliminal controlling stupid!” and worst of all , it’s why we can’t have nice things.

      • LFOldTimer

        Hi Fausto,

        Where did I post a comment that promoted war and military intervention into other sovereign nations?

        The fact is I haven’t Fausto. You won’t find a single one. On the contrary I have posted several comments on this very board that condemned US military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Syria and our hand in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in those nations. And I have opposed our perpetual occupation of Afghanistan. So before you spout off and tie me to that “same thinking” please get your facts straight.

        My point under this thread is that just like every other nation on earth, America has a right to protect our borders from invaders and we have a right to oust those who enter our nation illegally. That is not evil. That is protecting the very sovereignty that makes us a nation.

        If you’re unable recognize that as an inherent right afforded to any sovereign nation – I can’t help you.