Flanked by Trump pinatas and thousands of protesters, the Pilipino Workers Center jeepney stole the show at the annual May Day protests.
Some 50,000 people took to the streets of downtown LA on May 1st to denounce President Trump and his anti-immigrant policies.
“We want to send a message to Trump, that we are not in favor of targeting the immigrants for deportation,” said Lolita Andrada Lledo.
As immigrant and worker rights advocates took turns on the podium calling for a fair, comprehensive immigration reform, Trump supporters held their own counter protest, squaring off against May Day marchers.
Police managed to keep the two sides separated.
While the protests were loud and proud, it was a different scene just a few days ago — when community members had a chance to have a forum with officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Lawyers, business leaders, immigrant rights activists, and local Filipino media had a chance to meet with an official from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at a special town hall hosted by the philippine consulate.
Recording was not allowed, but the in-depth forum gave a chance for ICE’s Los Angeles field office Assistant Director Jorge Field to explain their practices.
Field said that ICE does not do raids or check points.
They explained that “plain clothes officers” execute targeted arrests at specific criminal aliens, away from public view.
They admit that while most of their apprehensions are undocumented immigrants with some kind of criminal record, they will sometimes arrest non-criminal immigrants — and it may spill over close to sensitive areas such as schools.
Field says that less than 1% of ICE arrests are non-criminal aliens.
After each arrest, detainees are allowed phone calls to lawyers, family members, and their consulate, and will undergo court proceedings — with a judge having the final say for the removal.
These practices remain the same as the Obama administration that set a record for deportations.
“These are things we are grappling with kaya nga we fight, we don’t become priorities people push back,” said Myrla Baldonado from PWC. “So there is a reason to see as we resist, we matter.”
Among one of the topics discussed: Rey Galleon, the first known Filipino deported by the Trump administration.
ICE clarified that they had nothing to do with his case, and it was Customs and Border Patrol that arrested and processed him.
Field said that while most communities and even media has generalized immigration arrests as ice…the cpb is responsible for many arrests and deportations as well…and that their procedures are different from theirs.
“We were also clarified it’s usually ICE that we blame, but usually they are not part of some operations because CBP — or Custom and Border Patrol — are part of implementing about deporting the illegal or undocumented immigrants in the us,” said Lledo.
ICE statistics show that 183 Philippine nationals were removed in 2016, trailing 17 other countries.
The Department of Homeland Security oversees both ICE and CBP.
The latest data from 2015 shows the last three years of Filipinos who were apprehended, after hitting over 1100 in 2011, the number has gradually tapered down to 334 in 2015.
The consulate is now arranging for Customs and Borders Patrol to hold a similar forum, to answer the burning questions of the Filipino community.