President Donald Trump issued twin executive orders on Wednesday directing the Department of Homeland Security to begin constructing a $20 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and to hire 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 5,000 Border Patrol agents to carry out deportations. The executive actions also block “sanctuary cities” from receiving federal funding.
Along with millions of immigrants nationwide, Trump’s orders affect some 250,000 undocumented LGBT Californians, many of whom came to the United States when they were very young or have “mixed-status” families, in which some members are U.S. citizens and others are undocumented. Others are seeking asylum based on documented claims of LGBT-specific abuse and persecution in their home countries. A wholesale arrest-and-deport campaign would rip families apart, upend workplaces, disrupt critical business sectors and services and send LGBT people back into hostile conditions.
“These executive orders are appalling,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “LGBT people must speak up forcefully and loudly to prevent these cruel efforts to rip members of our community away from their homes and their families. The United States is a country of immigrants, and the people President Trump is targeting are overwhelmingly hard working, striving to make a better life for themselves and their families, and are contributing to our communities. His threats to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities are an attack on all Californians and the federal programs that are vital to our community. We applaud Gov. Brown and other California state and local officials for their statements in support of sanctuary cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and other jurisdictions across California. Over the next few weeks, we will call on our 800,000 members to take action. We must resist.”
The new law requires law enforcement agencies to prioritize deportation for undocumented people who “have been charged with any criminal offense”; have engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a government agency”; or “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.” Past roundups have led to bias and overreach by law enforcement officials, where law-abiding people have been criminalized and subjected to brutal and violent treatment.