‘We’re all under attack!’
Two recent cases in the Los Angeles area show that the government’s attack on “undocumented criminals” is a threat to the rights of immigrants, and even citizens. Unless a broad movement can stop these raids and police-state type actions against the most vulnerable workers, such attacks will spread out against more kinds of people.
Undocumented students and supporters are mobilizing to support Claudia Rueda, a 22-year-old undocumented activist at Cal State L.A. arrested by Border Patrol agents on May 18 and released on June 9. Some relatives had been arrested in a drug trafficking investigation, though she was not charged with being involved. But agents arrested her because she had not applied for federal DACA protection. The reason for not applying: she lacked the $500 fee.
The next week, on May 25, U.S. citizen Guadalupe Plascencia filed papers to begin a lawsuit against the San Bernardino Sheriff’s department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for illegally holding her in jail in March as an undocumented worker. She had gone to the Ontario (CA) police station to retrieve property and was arrested over a warrant she obviously didn’t know was out on her. When she was to be released from jail by the sheriffs, she was handcuffed instead and driven to an ICE detention facility.
Police and ICE representatives frantically tried to explain this away as just a “mistake,” but Ms. Plascencia knew better. “I felt helpless, like I was no one,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Here, they talk about rights … I realized, we don’t have rights.”
The Coordinator of Cal State L.A.’s Dreamers Resource Center, Luz Borjon, agreed that when immigrants’ rights get attacked, citizens’ rights soon are also attacked. When supporters wrote letters calling for Claudia to be released on bond, Borjon said, “Staff and faculty were asked for driver’s licenses as proof of identity in order for the letters to be used by her lawyer. … We have to amplify the voices of undocumented students and make the choice to take a moral stand.”
Faculty and students did just that at Cal State L.A.’s graduation, holding up signs and banners calling for Claudia to be freed. They insist the campus raise funds to help immigrant students pay for lawyers, or for rent when parents are detained. Their struggle can become one step toward building a better society.