Immigration raids spark fear for Los Angeles Filipinos, city maintains sanctuary policies
by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
CARSON, CA — Los Angeles is believed to have one of the highest undocumented populations in the country, making it a popular target for immigration raids.
This past week, 160 undocumented immigrants were rounded up in so-called “ICE raids” — triggering protests in the country’s second largest city.
The Pilipino Workers Center — which advocates for undocumented Filipinos — has been monitoring the situation.
While none of those picked up by ICE officials this week are Filipino, community members say the fear is real.
“They have called me, texted me saying what do they need to do? We have also already distributed fliers for them to know their rights,” said Lolita Andrada Lledo, Associate Director of the Pilipino Workers Center. “For example if ICE will knock on your doors… different scenarios…we are asking all the undocumented Filipinos to keep in touch, call the Pilipino Workers Center. We also have our hotline, in any case that you’re apprehended.”
As the fear of deportations grow, community groups are now working to give services to anyone who may be affected.
“There is a real concern in our community,” said Ian Kamus, a PWC organizer. “What we’re trying to do as PWC, is make sure people know their rights — how to respond to a possible raid, or possible ceasing, or arrest of individuals. Also what we’re we are trying to do is be part of a network of providing legal aid and services.”
While Los Angeles city and county says it will maintain its sanctuary policies, the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) is also doing it part to help students affected by immigration issues.
“We have resources in place at our school sites,” assured Steve Zimmer, LAUSD President. “We are full sanctuary district, and we will not cooperate with immigration authorities or any type of enforcement… and we will not share data and what our families need to know our schools are safe. Our schools are safe for every family.”
PWC will hold a forum later this month at their center, partnering with other organizations and hoping to teach immigrants their rights in the event of an ICE raid or arrest.
While it has struck fear in many immigrant communities, Lledo says it is now time to continue the fight.
“If we just keep this situation like nothing, we do not act, we do not complain… they would sweep all the places where they think there are undocumented. But if we project to the world this not okay, it is inappropriate to deny and separate families, then the American public will join us in protesting…it’s not fair for you to target us.”
Immigration and customers enforcement (ICE) officials have said last week’s raids have nothing to do with the new administrations stance on immigration.
The raids were targeting criminal aliens, and have been a part of their routine procedures.
As community groups and officials try to find aid to people affected by these raids, advocates say there is another opponent to be aware of. phony lawyers and scammers looking to cash in on the fears.