May 22, 2017
Since Trump took office, there is heightened fear among immigrants that any contact with law enforcement will lead to deportation. And in L.A., where there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, immigrants are not reporting crimes, or coming forward to serve as witnesses, or showing up in courts.
Top Los Angeles officials have tried to assuage these fears. “As long as I am mayor, the LAPD will never be a deportation force,” proclaimed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the May 1 immigrant rights demonstration.
Officials claim that Los Angeles is a “sanctuary” for immigrants. They say that the LAPD neither asks about people’s immigration status, nor detains people for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
These official reassurances are a sham. The LAPD continues to feed the deportation machine. The LAPD partners with ICE in joint task forces that are supposed to target gangs, drug traffickers and dangerous criminals. But their raids are often little more than an excuse to carry out mass arrests. And all those picked up risk being detained by ICE in order to be deported, including many who have no criminal record.
The LAPD also automatically turns over all records of arrests and fingerprints to federal authorities, including ICE. Considering that in working class and poor communities the police often arrest people for minor offenses, including selling loose cigarettes, biking on the sidewalk, or simple possession, this also feeds the deportation machine.
And in no way is this just due to Trump. Only a few years ago, the federal government under Barack Obama, was deporting more than 400,000 immigrants a year. The federal authorities would never have been able to do this alone. They were only able to do this in cooperation and coordination with the local police forces, like in Los Angeles, acting as what officials call “force multipliers” for the federal government.
This repression is not aimed at getting rid of immigrant workers, but to intimidate them into accepting lower wages, longer hours and worse working and living conditions for the greater profit of the capitalist class. And they are used to divide the working class against itself.