By Jose Ivan Cazares
LOS ANGELES — Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to mitigate the effects of his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, demonstrators plan to assemble in front of City Hall June 28 and 30 to voice their dissatisfaction with his policies and support those affected by them.
“The executive order was just for show now that people have spoken out,” Emiliana Guereca, executive director and founder of the Women’s March LA Foundation said. “This administration inspires no confidence because we’re constantly being lied to. They’re disingenuous. First it was 1,000 children, now we’re hearing that more than 2,000 children are being detained.”
Guereca spoke from personal experience when she said many children separated from their parents would suffer trauma.
“I didn’t meet my parents until I was 10 years old,” Guereca said. “Children have always been separated from their parents when they immigrate, but now it’s happening on a much larger scale.”
Guereca said keeping children in cells reinforces the Trump administration’s rhetoric that depicts all Latin American immigrants as criminals, and that it is important to combat that idea. She said immigrants don’t come to the U.S. to live a life of luxury.
“They live hard lives so their children could have a future, but we’re telling these children that everything negative being said about them is true with this policy,” Guereca said.
On social media, thousands are speaking out against an increase in the number of children separated from their parents when they are detained by immigration agents.
The June 28 event will include a toy and book drive for the children being affected. On June 30, demonstrators across the country will march with those in Los Angeles who are marching from City Hall to the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Though demonstrations are being organized by a coalition from across the country, the drive on June 28 will be geared for children detained in two facilities in California to accommodate the upsurge in detainees.
Since the issue started receiving public attention, Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families at the border while standing behind his “zero-tolerance” policy. His administration also announced that 500 children have been reunited with their families.
However, more than 2,000 children are still living in shelters across the country. A percentage of them are categorized as unaccompanied minors and placed in foster homes via an Obama-era program designed to accommodate minors crossing the border without their parents or guardian.
According to Trump, the dilemma occured due to weak immigration laws. He also has publicly criticized Democrats for being unwilling to negotiate on immigration policy. The president is defending his administration’s actions by arguing that its ability to deal with immigration is limited by laws implemented by previous administrations.
“In the 2016 election, voters said loud and clear that they wanted a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said June 26 during a speech in downtown Los Angeles.
Sessions defended the “zero-tolerance” policy and said there is no escaping the fact that immigrants crossing the border without documentation are criminals and should be treated as such. Non-prosecutorial immigration policy “sends a message to those in developing nations who don’t know U.S. immigration laws and believe they will be safe from prosecution once they cross the border,” he said.
Sessions did not address the current controversy at the border stating that the “open border crowd” would criticize the Trump administration no matter what it did.
The president’s executive order supersedes current laws that prohibit the detention of minors for more than 20 days. His administration’s “zero tolerance” policy requires that everyone detained crossing the border illegally be subject to criminal prosecution which means children will be detained along with their parents while they undergo the court proceedings.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced June 26 via a press release that he is co-leading a coalition of 18 attorneys general, including Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy in suing the Trump administration over its “zero-tolerance” policy on humanitarian grounds.