Two California police departments are speaking out against the Department of Homeland security for what believe were deceptions by the feds in an effort to deport non-violent undocumented immigrants.
In mid February, ICE officials conducted the first round of raids in as many as 12 states under the Trump administration. While the White House has repeatedly claimed that the immigration crackdown specifically targeted dangerous criminals, analysis by outlets like USA Today prove otherwise.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel cooperated with the federal government during these raids because he was told by the DHS that federal agents were launching an investigation to find members of the local Salvadorian gang known as MS-13. But now Vogel believes that the gang investigation was just a cover to locate and deport undocumented immigrants, who he says were secretly removed from sites without police on the scene and sent to different counties for processing.
Santa Cruz is one of the sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants in CA. According to Vogel, the City Council had passed a resolution making the town a place of trust and safety for all local immigrants.
“I want to underscore that we would never have participated or cooperated in this operation if we had known that it included immigration enforcement,” said Vogel during a press conference on the matter. “I want to be very clear: The only reason members of the Santa Cruz police participated in this operation was to arrest violent gang members.”
Vogel added that officials were “assured” that the operation did not have an added “immigration component to it.”
DHS spokesman James Schwab denies Vogel’s allegations that police officials were lied to. “Allegations that the agency secretly planned an immigration enforcement action…are completely false, reckless and disturbing,” Schwab said in a statement.
But it is important to keep in mind that if the raids in Santa Cruz were only meant to investigate local gang activity, why were ICE officials conducting immigration crackdowns in as many as 11 other states during the exact same time?
The Los Angeles Police Department is also airing its grievances with the DHS over how immigration agents keep referring to themselves as “police,” which misled the community into believe they’re from the local police department.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, the city attorney, and the City Council president each signed a letter indicating that the practice undermines the police department’s years of work building trust in the city's largest immigrant community.
Some might wonder why local police departments in the golden state would want to protect undocumented immigrants if they're breaking the law simply by existing in a country they're not citizens of.
There is a side of undocumented immigration that Americans seldom hear about, while the Trump administration draws fear-inducing illustrations of violent criminals who just want to either harm hard-working citizens or snatch their jobs away. In states like California alone, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants contribute a great deal to society and the health of the economy.
According to a report by the California Immigrant Policy Center, there are roughly 2.9 million undocumented immigrants in CA who contribute about $181 billion of the states GDP - a figure that nearly equal to the 2015 GDP for the entire state of Oklahoma.
Undocumented immigrants pay $3.2 billion in taxes in California, and represent 10 percent of the state's workforce. They make up 45 percent of agriculture and 21 percent of construction workers. Mass deportation of immigrants would unquestionably harm the state's economy.
What about hiring American citizens rather than those who are in the country illegally? Keep in mind that both industries have a tough time filling those jobs as it is. There are currently 200,000 unfilled construction positions, and every year farmers fail to find laborers for 20,000 jobs.
When states penalize farm owners who hired undocumented immigrants, they consistently struggle to find Americans willing to do the work, even when they increase wages. That has been the case in North Carolina, Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, and pretty much every other state that has passed similar laws.
Farm owners in CA who supported Trump are now panicking as a result of his immigration policies, because they know they're about to take a massive economic hit.
Finally, the next time Trump, who hasn't paid income taxes in 20 years, stereotypes undocumented immigrants, consider that they pay $12 billion in taxes every year.
Immigration is an extremely complex and nuanced issue. No one disagrees that undocumented criminals should be deported. But if Americans keep allowing one of the ignorant leaders of the free world to generalize the undocumented community, it'll not only lead to devastating outcomes for immigrants, but also destructive consequences for the entire country.