ICE raids face CA resistance
Amid a fresh wave of immigration enforcement crackdowns, several powerful organizations in California have flexed their muscle to protect or benefit those present in the state illegally.
The city of Los Angeles has become a focal point for several different efforts, triggered by raids last month that “swept up more than 100 people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras who entered the country and stayed illegally,” as the Los Angeles times noted.
“The seizures motivated church leaders nationwide who say they feel compelled to offer physical protection on their premises even if it violates federal law,” as the paper added, with at least three L.A.-area churches “vowing in recent weeks to offer refuge to Central Americans with deportation orders[.]” It is the Obama administration that has taken heat for the roundups:
“Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics and other Christian leaders across the country say they are outraged with the Obama administration’s actions, said Noel Andersen, a grass-roots coordinator with the Church World Service group for refugees. The group has built a network of sanctuaries for Central Americans targeted by ICE.”
At the same time that California churches have shifted toward the approach that defined the state’s so-called “sanctuary cities,” schools and universities have also advanced complementary new policies. Los Angeles Unified Schools, for instance, have declared themselves to be ICE-free zones. “The school board has banned Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from setting foot on any campus without the district’s permission,” according to Fox 11 Los Angeles. Not only must the Superintendent of Schools approve any ICE presence, by the terms of the new vote, but LAUSD lawyers must as well:
“ICE claims that they do not come to schools looking for students, but parents fear sending their kids to school after information they received of ICE agents conducting a series of raids across the U.S. in January targeting Central American immigrants.”
Simultaneously, administrators in the UC system have forged ahead with plans to extend so-called DREAM loans to students who could potentially be deported. “Officials at California’s four-year public universities are reaching out to an estimated 10,000 undergraduate students who might qualify for a special loan aimed at reducing their tuition,” as U-T San Diego reported, “a program that further distinguishes the state as a national trendsetter in providing services to unauthorized immigrants.”
“The California DREAM loan program’s initial $7 million allotment — $5 million for the UC and $2 million for CSU — will be distributed to eligible applicants in the following weeks,” the paper noted. “The state provided half of the sum and the two university systems covered the other half. The loans are for the 2015-16 academic year, and they’re retroactive to last fall.”
As the public education establishment has come to the aid of would-be deportees, the state of California itself has continued to reward those who go public in some fashion with their legal status. California’s program to extend slightly modified drivers license privileges to otherwise undocumented immigrants far outpaced predicted demand. “Under the new law, 605,000 undocumented residents received licenses, accounting for 40 percent of all of the licenses issued last year,” the International Business Times reported. “Exceeding expectations, even more attempted to obtain a license: Around 830,000 undocumented immigrants have applied for a license since Jan. 2, 2015, the first day of the new policy at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
The state’s aggressive action on normalizing residents who immigrated unlawfully has been rooted in two realities — first, the relatively vast and stable population of long-time residents crossing over from Mexico and Central America, and, second, the prevailing political agenda of Democrats wielding near one-party control over state policy for years on end. “California is among 12 states that now allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses, areas covering an estimated 37 percent of that population,” the Times observed, citing a recent Pew report. But California has also surpassed all other states in its percentage of unlawful residents eligible for a license, according to the report.
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