Immigrant rights advocates gathered in downtown Los Angeles Thursday to warn migrants to take seriously President Donald Trump’s ambiguous threat to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants next week.
Under a banner reading, “Mr. President, Stop the Raids!” in Spanish and English, members of a migrant rights coalition urged those under the threat of deportation to avoid panic and know their rights.
“We were told Trump was a `political clown,’ but today we must take this threat very, very seriously,” said Juan Jose Gutierrez of the Full Rights For Immigrants Coalition. “We are going to survive this dire threat.”
To set the mood, the politically charged music of Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona played as the speakers — some holding signs saying “Legalization, yes. Deportation, no” — assembled under gray skies outside the federal building on North Los Angeles Street.
“We cannot ignore the threat of Trump to carry out massive raids,” civil rights attorney Antonio Rodriguez said. “What we have is a call to create mass terror.”
Immigration service providers report some communities are increasingly worried that Trump plans to intensify his anti-immigrant campaign.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook with immigrants calling and asking what their families can do in case a member is arrested by immigration authorities,” said coalition member Alicia Flores, executive director of the Hank Lacayo Youth and Family Center in Panorama City.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the mass raids and deportations against the Mexican community during the 1930s,” added Gloria Saucedo of the Centro Mexico community center in the San Fernando Valley. “That is why we are going to mobilize and organize our community like never before.”
Before kicking off his re-election campaign, Trump tweeted Monday night that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “will begin deporting the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States … as fast as they come in,” and blamed congressional Democrats for the “border crisis.”
Coalition member Dr. John Fernandez, a retired teacher who taught for 24 years at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, said that undocumented immigrants should remember their rights if confronted by ICE agents.
“If they happen to come to your door, they cannot come in without a warrant,” he said. “Do not say anything and do not sign anything.”
In his turn at the podium, Don Justin Jones, a retired Los Angeles civil rights attorney who carried an umbrella hand-painted with the words “Donald Trump — Out!” spoke of the “inhumane, brutal tactics” of the current president.
“Anybody who doesn’t recognize the principles that founded our country doesn’t have the right to be the president,” he told the crowd.
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