Opponents of the Trump administration’s changing immigration policy chant outside the Merced County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. The group spoke in favor of legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Thaddeus Miller email@example.com
Opponents of the Trump administration’s changing immigration policy held a news conference, one of a handful in the Central San Joaquin Valley, outside the Merced County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.
Those gathered held signs, chanted and spoke in support of pending state and federal legislation that would protect immigrant families from deportation, they said.
“These mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and loved ones are woven into the fabric of our communities and congregations and should not be targeted,” volunteer Irene Armendariz said Monday.
The 44-year-old from Merced stood with other advocates outside the Sheriff’s Office. Similar gatherings were held in Fresno, Kern, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties on the same day, organizers said.
THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE; THIS IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE.
Jose Morales, deacon at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
The organization and advocates have been pushing for the county and individual cities to become sanctuary spaces, a symbolic self-designation meant to ease the minds of undocumented immigrants worried by ongoing changes to immigration policy under the Trump administration.
School districts in Livingston and Planada have declared themselves safe places for the undocumented, and the city of Livingston began the process for something similar.
Also speaking in support of becoming a sanctuary was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Deacon Jose Morales, who is also a teacher at Planada Elementary.
“This is not a political issue; this is a human rights issue,” he said.
President Donald Trump has talked about deporting 11 million people without documentation and has promised to build a wall on the Mexican border, both of which have generated fear in the undocumented community, residents said.
Undocumented immigrants and their children live in fear daily, according to Karla Gonzalez. A legal citizen, the 31-year-old Merced resident said her friends and neighbors are afraid to go outside.
IT’S SAD TO KNOW THEY’RE AFRAID TO WALK THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL.
Karla Gonzalez, Merced resident, speaking of area parents who are undocumented
“It’s sad to know they’re afraid to walk their kids to school,” she said while fighting back tears. “It’s really sad to see the kids going through a lot. They don’t want to wake up to go to school no more, because … they’re afraid (their parents) are going to be arrested.”
Advocates set up a few boxes painted as a gray brick wall to symbolize the wall Trump has said he would build. Nine-year-old Victor Gonzalez kicked the symbolic wall over at the urging of the other advocates.
Local law enforcement has said it makes no effort to search out law-abiding residents’ legal status in Merced or Merced County. Sheriff Vern Warnke and city council members from around the county have urged victims of crime to trust the police.
Victoria Castillo, an organizer with the Merced Organizing Project, said advocates want cities and the county to adopt an official policy.