Published : Thursday, June 20, 2019 | 4:46 AM
It was the presidential tweet that caused a tremor in many hearts, “millions,” suggested the commander-in-chief.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” President Donald Trump tweeted June 17. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.
“Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!”
Trump set the volume on high and local response matched his amplified emission.
Local political and social activists from opposite ends of the political spectrum agreed that the president’s timing appeared to be playing politics with his 6 p.m. tweet.
“He is launching this at the same time that he’s spearheading his campaign,” said Pablo Alvarado, of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) in Pasadena. “So it’s another way of talking to his fascist base, by telling them there is going to be this prosecution against undocumented people. To keep his base motivated.”
Michael Alexander, founding President of TEAPAC, the largest Tea Party organization in Southern California, has a different take.
“This is an outstanding example of how Trump, as president, will be able to position his opponents rather than the other way around,” said Alexander. “Now we’ll find out whether the people of the United States want to back this by voting for Trump in 2020.”
For Alexander, the issue hinges on a lack of respect for the law which members of both major parties ignore in concert with immigrants who have overstayed their visas and those who tried the legal system and lost.
Legal citizens can’t ignore a traffic ticket with the same ease, he suggested.
“In fact, they come down here with a gun to make sure that we turn over our tax money, so that what? So that they could turn around and give it to people who aren’t even Americans,” asserted Alexander. “They take the money from us at gunpoint and give it to them while telling us that we may not, at gunpoint, repel the invader.”
Immigrant advocates believe the only ones facing pointed guns will be those targeted in the president’s announced sweep.
“It’s going to be disruptive,” said Yuni Parada, co-chair, Pasadena Latino Forum. “People are going to start being afraid. They’ll start hiding, not only in Pasadena, not only in Los Angeles. It’s everywhere.”
Practically speaking, Parada said, ICE will have a tough job. “If someone has been on a deportation order, believe me,” she stated, “they’re not waiting there for Trump to come and get them.”
But the people that occupied the homes of those ICE have come for, could find themselves in an unwanted, and unanticipated, situation.
“That’s going to be painful,” said Parada, “even if they have papers, they’re going to be hassled. It will be just like the Gestapo going door to door trying to collect people.”
The move is designed to instill fear in immigrants, said NDLON’s Alvarado.
“Our work is to make sure that people are not fearful and that they exercise their rights truthfully as possible,” he stated. “We’re going to focus on that in making sure that people defend themselves.”
Parada believes the announcement is no bluff.
“He is going to be doing it,” she said, “I don’t think it’s going to be millions, but he is going to be doing it. He likes ordering people around and ICE is doing whatever he says and he thinks he’s going to find a million people waiting on a line for him. It’s not going to happen.”
Trump’s move, Alexander stated, “is absolutely correct and long overdue. Whether he actually succeeds or even attempts to expel millions or not, it’s clear we have many hundreds of thousands of people who have come here illegally outside our system.”
Alvarado is hoping for countless acts of solidarity from citizens who interact with the immigrants in Trump’s sites:
“This is the time for people who are friends to immigrants, for people who employ gardeners and nannies inside their homes to speak up and to do something nice as an act of defiance for their immigrant workers, for their brothers and sisters, as an act of repudiation of these policies.”