LOS ANGELES — Roughly 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Pershing Square on Sunday, December 18, before marching to the steps of City Hall, where lawmakers and community leaders pledged to resist proposals by President-elect Donald Trump.
Immigration was the most prominent topic discussed at Sunday’s rally, which coincided with International Migrants Day. At the event, demonstrators, lawmakers and community leaders spoke out in support of the rights of undocumented residents, especially those who may face a greater risk of deportation under the incoming presidential administration.
“We will not go back to the days when we persecuted [people] because of religion or discriminated against [people] because of the color of their skin or their legal status,” California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León told people in attendance of Sunday’s demonstration. “That’s not America, and that’s certainly not California.”
He and other elected officials stood behind state legislation — introduced during the first session of California’s recently-elected Legislature on Monday, December 5 — designed to challenge Trump’s hardline stance on immigration. Among those bills were one that would provide free legal counsel to people facing deportation hearings and another that would improve legal services for undocumented immigrants involved in criminal proceedings.
Other proposals submitted earlier this month include legislation that would make it more difficult for the federal government to fund a border wall between California and Mexico and establish a Muslim registry. Another bill would effectively end the state’s use of private facilities to house undocumented immigrants.
In addition, a bill introduced by de León would prevent U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from utilizing any state or local resources.
“We are either resistors or collaborators, and the city of Los Angeles will not collaborate with Donald Trump’s administration,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo on the steps of City Hall on Sunday.
Cedillo and other lawmakers applauded policy decisions from state and local institutions that would protect undocumented immigrants from being singled out and deported.
A week after Trump won the presidency, California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White said the institution he heads would not take part in federal efforts to identify and deport any of its students.
During a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, November 16, White said the CSU “will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law.”
University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano followed suit with similar commitments outlined in a statement released on Wednesday, November 30.
Los Angeles Police Chief Glenn Beck announced on Monday, November 14, that his department would continue to honor a 1979 special order that prevents officers from stopping and questioning Angelenos strictly for immigration purposes.
“This is truly a Filipino issue,” Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) Executive Director Aquilina Versoza told the Asian Journal following Sunday’s march. “The policies that the federal administration will be taking are really going to affect us, and our community doesn’t realize how big the impact will be.”
She said that Trump’s positions on issues like the environment, worker’s rights, and education, in addition to immigration, could mean significant changes for Filipinos. Moving forward, Versoza and PWC hope to foster discourse and awareness at the local level to bolster political engagement within the community.
Sunday’s march also drew representatives of organized labor and the environmental movement, in addition to supporters of immigrant, LGBTQ and workers rights. Ian Kamus, a community organizer at PWC, said the organization’s presence at the event illustrated the wide scope of concerns felt by many Americans in the face of Trump’s impending leadership.
“We know that we need to stand together today as never before,” Stewart Kwoh, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, told demonstrators at the beginning of Sunday’s rally. “We will mobilize, we will stand together, we will be in the courts together and we will be in the hallowed halls of legislature to stand up for justice.” (Eric Anthony Licas/AJPress)