Not So Sunny California

Photo by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash

OH SNAP! We are getting sued! Yup, you heard right, California is getting sued! US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a lawsuit against California on Wednesday, March 7.

Recent raids conducted by ICE officials in Southern California detained more than 100 immigrants. Like our state legislator, Kevin De Leon, who responded to Sessions’s announcement with a twitter post saying “BRING IT ON.”, many locals have also expressed their feelings towards the raids and mission of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.“I feel disappointed in the justice system because for the most part they are racially profiling people, trying to figure out if they’re here legally or not,” states Cypress College student Ricardo Perez, 21.

Our sunny state is being sued for three recently passed immigration laws. The first law, known as the “sanctuary” law, is SB 54. This law prevents local and state law enforcement from two actions;

1) They cannot tell federal agents when an immigrant is going to be released from custody.

2) They can not release any “non-public information” on the immigrant’s immigration status.

The second law is AB 103, which requires the California Attorney General to check on any facility where immigrants are being held awaiting a court date or deportation. And last but certainly not least, AB 450 prohibits employers from cooperating with federal agents in allowing things such as an ICE raid in the workplace.

Laws and politics; eww I know. Yes, all this law making can be confusing, but every time something like this happens, the focus gears towards the affected. In this scenario it is the very individuals we live among. According to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California, unauthorized immigrants make up 7% of the population of California. That’s 7% of a nearly 40 million-strong population. That’s 2,800,000 people in our state alone. We have more than Wyoming and Alaska’s population combined!

Many immigrants come to the United States in search of better opportunities, with most of these individuals entering the workforce and taking whatever job they can get in order to make something for themselves and their families.

Vinny Nakhoul, a student attending Cypress College expressed a similar attitude in regards to the lawsuit. “It seems as if they’re going out of their way to find people who aren’t necessarily committing crimes, who are just working hard…They’re just doing the job that needs to be done. The job that somebody has to do in order for our economy to grow as it should.”

I’ve never been the type to hop on the bandwagon, but when I heard what my peers had to say I couldn’t help but feel as if they understood the frustration I felt inside. When I heard about the raids, it took me back to a specific place in time. I was 7 years old, life was cool, and I was going about my usual routine- get home from school, eat Oreo’s, and watch television- when I realized the cupboards were empty. My family didn’t have much growing up, but we were always blessed and never had to go without- seeing the cupboards empty immediately got me worried. Running to my mother, I said, “Mom, there’s no more snacks! Let’s go to the store!”

My mother looked down at me with a sad look on her face, and asked her friend on the phone if she could give her a call back. She asked me if I remembered how much the police were on the news lately; with a nod from me, she continued. “The policeman came and took people at the store we go to; so Mommy has to be safe ad stay home for a few more days.” I didn’t understand what was going on at the time- I was too young- but with a few more years, I learned that that was my first true experience with the fact that my mother was undocumented. She had friends who were taken back to their home countries after being detained during a raid at the warehouse they worked at. The laws we now have in place that the US Department of Justice is suing us for protect unauthorized immigrants, like my mother’s friends at the time, from ICE raids in their workplace.

But wait! What about their kids? The children of my mother’s friends ended up having to be displaced among relatives after their mothers got deported. According to the American Immigration Council estimates of 2009- 2013 census data indicates that 4.1 million U.S. children under the age of 18 live with at least one undocumented parent. My story is only one of the many of those who’s lives who were and continue to be impacted by these immigration laws. California is being sued for their laws protecting unauthorized individuals, including 4.1 million kids.

Our children are the future, yes indeed, but with Jeff Sessions’ intent to sue California for laws protecting unauthorized individuals, 4.1 million children’s future’s are threatened. These children need a strong family to reach their full capacity; they should not have to pay the price for their parent’s attempting to give them a better life.

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