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  February 15, 2017

Trump's Immigration Order Sets Barriers on Fighting Deportation at the Local Level

Erika Andiola says citizens can help protect undocumented communities by pushing elected officials to their states and cities to declare sanctuary status
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Erika Andiola is the Government Relations Director of the DREAM Action Coalition in Phoenix, Arizona. She was brought to the U.S. at the age of eleven and does not have legal documentation; she lost her university scholarships when Arizona passed laws affecting immigrants. With employers afraid to hire the undocumented, she hasn't been able to find a job. Considering Arizona's aggressive push against Latinos in the state, Andiola has every reason to be fearful. But instead, she has taken a stand.

She got involved with Promise Arizona, a grassroots civic engagement organization with a mission to recruit, train and support a new generation of leaders from across the state and register Latinos to vote. She also dedicated herself to championing the DREAM Act . She spent countless hours camped in front of Senator John McCain's Phoenix office in the summer heat with the "DREAM Army," supporters who worked tirelessly to educate elected officials on the Act. She knew she might be arrested, and eventually she was.

On video, Andiola also confronted Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, a national figure behind anti-immigration legislation. Russell was clearly not happy about being surprised. He could have called security and demanded an arrest on the spot. Arrest is frightening for anyone, but as Andiola knows personally, arrest with the possibility of deportation is life-altering, especially for someone so young. Andiola's single-minded dedication to social justice comes before her personal gain.


KIM BROWN: Welcome to The Real News Network in Baltimore. I'm Kim Brown.

Activists in various cities across the United States took to the streets over the weekend, and on Monday, to protest against the immigration and customs enforcement raids over the past week. According to the New York Times, over 600 undocumented immigrants were arrested in at least 11 states, and now face deportation. The Department of Homeland Security says that the arrests were focused on capturing undocumented immigrants with a criminal record. But many immigrants without a criminal record were also swept up.

Protests took place in Milwaukie on Monday, and in Baltimore on Sunday, among other places. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, of Los Angeles, also known as CHIRLA, said last Friday that ICE agents had denied immigration lawyers access to some 100 people, who had been detained by ICE. Here's what CHIRLA Director, Angelica Salas told the press on Friday.

ANGELICA SALAS: CHIRLA attorneys were denied access to a list of individuals who were affected by this operation, when they were inquiring about details. CHIRLA attorneys were also informed by an ICE official that about 100 people were detained, and that if they wanted to get additional information about individuals, it was going to be kind of hard, because of the numbers that were being detained.

MALE INTER: ... As a CHIRLA staff attorney, can you give us a little more insight?

ANGELICA SALAS: ICE is denying information and misleading attorneys, and yesterday's operation was a coordinated effort. ICE has not yet stated clear information about yesterday's operation, such as how many people were arrested and why, how many were women, how many were men? This is unacceptable.

KIM BROWN: So, joining us from Phoenix, Arizona, to take a closer look at this situation is Erika Andiola. Erika is the Government Relations Director of the Dream Action Coalition. Erika, we really appreciate you speaking with us, thank you.

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Thank you for having me.

KIM BROWN: So, let's start with a brief update on what has been going on with these raids. So, who have ICE agents been targeting? And where have these raids been taking place? Are they happening in people's homes, at their place of work, or on the street -- where have these detentions been happening?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Yes. So, our understanding, and from the reports that have been coming from several local groups that have been working on this for several years now, is that they have been targeting homes for the most part. They've also been targeting work places, and I mean there's been a few reports of grocery stores, but we're not necessarily seeing as much of that as home raids.

You know, one of the narratives that the Trump administration is trying to put forward, and DHS and ICE, is that they're targeting people with criminal offences. Or, you know, people who have been harming others, or have very specific types of felonies. But the reality is that, a big percentage of these folks are also people who don't necessarily have a criminal record, and also, you know, people who might have a criminal record, but it's because they were working.

And just for example, here in Arizona, one of our cases that we unfortunately lost through deportation, her name is Lupita. You know, she did have a criminal record, and the reason for that was because she was working. And she was raided by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is... he's no longer there in his position, but Sheriff Joe Arpaio was one of the toughest sheriffs here in Arizona.

And so, you know, when we're talking about criminals and using that word, it's hard to really understand what they’re talking about. And also, realizing that criminalizing communities of color has been something that this country has been doing for so many years. And it's easy to talk about us in that way.

KIM BROWN: So, Erika it's generally assumed that these raids are the result of President Trump's Executive Order on undocumented immigration, which also included the building of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. However, during the Obama administration there were periodic ICE raids as well, which, at their height caught as many as 2,000 individuals in one week.

So, are last week's ICE raids under Donald Trump something new? Or is it a continuation of Barack Obama's policies?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Yeah, I think many of us in the immigrant rights movement were often criticized for, you know, protesting President Obama for talking about his deportation record and that was the reality, you know, we had. My own home was raided under the Obama administration, and we had many people who were deported... a record number of people deported under Obama.

What we have seen right now, is there is a spike on raids, and also it's different when you start looking at the priorities that they have put forward in the administration, in terms of the Executive Orders that they've released. The priorities under Obama were harsh, but there was also a way for us to, you know, fight cases like Lupita's case, right, that we ended up losing here in Arizona. Given that she was a mother of citizen children, she had a lot of assets to contribute to the United States.

You know, we were able to fight that, because it was a different priorities set by President Obama, and unfortunately, what ended up happening is that under Trump, they changed those priorities, to basically... they expanded them to, you know, apply for... to more people, who we could potentially fight their cases under the Obama administration, at the local level, with ICE and the DHS.

So, it's worrisome, and it's really something that our community is very, very anxious about, and that we're trying to help as much as possible to inform them on what they can do if this happens.

KIM BROWN: And you are in touch with immigrant communities, so, what has been the reaction to these raids?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: I mean it's hard. It's something that, you know, people who perhaps have come in contact with the police in the past, or people who have been in deportation proceedings. And even folks who are family members of people who are in deportation proceedings, are worried because obviously, you know, they see that they come to their own houses. That they could go to work places and so, you know, it's this constant fear and, you know, you can't really live your life the same way that you have been living your life, given that you have to look around to see there's eyes, you know, around you, or if they are about to arrest you.

What we're trying to do as much as we can is, you know, try to acknowledge that fear, but also getting people to get prepared, and them really getting as much knowledge as possible on their rights. Because the reality is, even if you're undocumented, you still have rights under, you know, basically civil rights, right? So, if you are in your house, and somebody comes to your door with a deportation order, you don't have to open the door unless they have a... a judge has a warrant, which usually doesn't happen.

So, those are the kinds of tools that we're trying to give people, to make sure that they're also protecting themselves as much as they can. And having a plan, just in case they do get detained, or unfortunately sometimes deported. But we want to make sure that they're ready for anything that happens.

KIM BROWN: So, one of the big unanswered questions during the Presidential campaign was, what would Trump do with the people who registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that is, Obama's plan to allow undocumented students to remain in the U.S. and to continue their studies.

So, first, I mean, how are they, the Dreamers as they are often called, how are they reacting to these raids? And second, do you expect... what exactly do you expect to happen to them under Donald Trump?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: So, for your first question, right, I think that we'll have to acknowledge that, you know, dreamers, the DACA recipients; I am one of them, right? But just in general, we come from different mixed status families. And so the fact that we are still protected under DACA doesn't mean that we're not worried about our own parents, and doesn't mean that we're not worried about our own families. Most of us come from undocumented families and so, it's definitely... the anxiety doesn't stop just with having your DACA.

But there's also, you know, we're making sure that DACA recipients also understand that they're not necessarily protected completely from deportation as a citizen would. Even residents are vulnerable, right, and DACA recipients are vulnerable to deportation, if we commit, you know, certain types of offences. If you have more than three misdemeanors or if, you know, unfortunately something happens, and you do get caught by the police, then you still are vulnerable to deportation.

What we're hoping is that, you know, it doesn't get taken away. What we're hoping is that there are a lot of people, a lot of leadership in the GOP that has been supportive of the Dream Act before, that has been supportive of DACA recipients before, and we're hoping that, you know, they really help us push inside of the administration. To make sure that they understand that it's not... it would not be a good idea, and it would also harm, in a lot of ways, the economy of this country, instead of helping.

And so, you know, we're hoping that that doesn't happen. We're still making sure that, you know, there are those conversations happening in Congress, and in leadership of the GOP as well as, you know, getting the stories out there. Which is the most important thing for us -- getting stories of Dreamers out there, who can really tell the narrative. That is, the real narrative, and not the narrative that Trump is putting forward.

KIM BROWN: So, finally, what can citizens who care, and who are concerned about these raids do, to help undocumented immigrants?

ERIKA ANDIOLA: I think there's several things that people can do right now. You know we're trying to mobilize communities, and especially a lot of the people that turned out, right, for different rallies and marches, and everything that happened after Trump took power. There were a lot of marches and resistance, the women's march, people were coming out and really showing support for the immigrant communities.

So, for now I think, we're asking people at the local level to try to plug in as much as possible where local organizations are doing this work, and offer their support. Right now, it's the time to get allies, even if we have to physically stop a bus, like we did in Arizona, to stop the deportations, then we have to do it, right? Because it's the right thing to do, to get people who shouldn't be deported protected. So, this is the time that we need our allies to be able to do that, but at the same time, to push our local members of Congress, our local leadership, to step up.

City Council members and Governors can right now, push for sanctuary for undocumented immigrants in their cities. But we need people to really make those calls every day, as much as they can, to show that they do support undocumented communities, and they want to keep them here, and keep families together.

KIM BROWN: We've been speaking with Erika Andiola. Erika is the Government Relations Director of the Dream Action Coalition. She's been joining us today from Phoenix, Arizona. Erika, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much for talking with us.

ERIKA ANDIOLA: Thank you for having me.

KIM BROWN: And thank you for watching The Real News Network.




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