Growing up undocumented in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in Orange County, I learned that tensions grew in the presence of law enforcement.
The nervous eyes of mothers walking their children to school heightened my fear.
I didn’t understand at the time why our pace quickened at the sight of khaki and navy blue uniforms, but I also absorbed the fear that permeated our migration.
It is now 2013, and these tensions continue. In December, California Attorney General Kamala Harris introduced the Secure Communities program that allows law enforcement to scan detainee’s fingerprints into a database to identify them as undocumented or not, for deportation purposes.
Targeted individuals may be held up to 48 hours after being released from custody for a minor offense, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement waste precious time and money on folks that more often than not have done little wrong. Minor traffic infractions may cost undocumented individuals all that they have ever worked for.
A malfunctioning signal light can escalate to deportation proceedings.
The O.C. Sheriff’s Department, under Sandra Hutchens, is wrong to think that adhering to the Secure Community program will keep the peace.
The opposite is taking place, as immigrant communities grow resentful toward the agencies we’re supposed to place our trust in.
We’ve seen these departments try to chip away at community morale, one family at a time, one loved one at a time.
But, in the spirit of migrant people across the nation, resiliency is everything.
We won’t stop until the criminalization and dehumanization efforts of these institutions against undocumented people ceases.