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06 • JULY 19, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

LOCAL

Trump triples down on racism, changes asylum rules Is America hurling toward a schism? By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Donald Trump’s normalized habit of creating distractions may have reached a tipping point July 15, as the president instigated a white nationalist twitter attack against four duly elected women of color in Congress and announced a new policy that essentially ends asylum in the US, potentially condemning terrified and tortured LGBT asylum seekers to their deaths. Trump’s public throw-down telling progressive Democratic LGBT allies Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Bronx), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib ( Michigan) and Ayanna S. Pressley (Massachusetts) – nicknamed “the Squad” -- to “go back” where they come from was considered so overtly racist, even journalistic standardbearer The Associated Press called Trump’s tweets “racist” in a headline. The political and cultural significance has been so jarring that historians may well regard July 2019 as the moment when the 2020 elections started to boil down to candidates either supporting white supremacist or advocating for diversity. And it may have all started as a distraction. Trump needed to divert media scrutiny away from his association with billionaire registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein— and his heavily criticized Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, who, as a Florida federal prosecutor, had given Epstein a sweetheart deal in 2008. Suddenly, the day before Acosta resigned, the New York Times reported on Thursday, July 11 about a new plan for massive ICE sweeps of undocumented immigrants. This was an abrupt reversal of Trump’s scuttled previous announcement of ICE “removing the millions of illegal aliens,” tweeted on June 17. This time, there was a list of 2,000 “criminals” with final deportation orders who could expect shockand-awe-like ICE sweeps in 10 named cities, including Los Angeles, on Sunday, July 14. The ICE raid was a harsh counter to

President Trump Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

extensive media coverage of the Squad criticizing the inhumane treatment of migrants, including caged separated children, after their July 1 tour of detention centers in El Paso and Clint, Texas. The ACLU reports that despite a court-ordered injunction, Trump’s child-separation policy is still in effect, where an infant can be taken from its “unfit” mother for a years-old traffic violation. Lights for Liberty organized 800 rallies around the country on Friday night, July 12 protesting the expected massive ICE raids and alerting immigrant families about their rights. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore took to Twitter to alert undocumented people that law enforcement would not help ICE in the raids. They also posted “know your rights” cards. About 400 people rallied in downtown LA, while a much smaller group gathered in West Hollywood Park to hear former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, local leaders

and several members of the West Hollywood City Council decry Trump’s inhumanity towards immigrants and asylum seekers. As thousands protested, Vice President Mike Pence visited two migrant detention centers in Texas, one with children and the other a Border Patrol station near McAllen with nearly 400 men crammed inside a cage. Some of the detainees said they had been there for more than 40 days, were hungry, and could not shower or brush their teeth. According to the pool reporter from Politico: “The stench was horrendous. The cages were so crowded that it would have been impossible for all of the men to lie on the concrete.” “I was not surprised by what I saw,” Pence said later. “I knew we would see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff.” He blamed Democrats for the situation. Meanwhile, on a quieter parallel track, an internal Democratic Caucus dispute was developing between the Squad and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the inadequacies

of an emergency border aid package. The dispute intensified after AOC’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, called out Rep. Sharice Davids, a moderate out lesbian Democrat and Native American from Kansas, for voting for the aide bill. Chakrabarti, in a tweet he later deleted, wrote that the liberals “certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.” Of Davids, he tweeted: “I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system.” Friday night, the House Democratic Caucus’s  official Twitter account slapped back: “Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color?” Saturday, a pall hung over the City of Angeles as undocumented immigrant families, friends, allies and advocates cowered in fear, having heard that anyone nearby, even US citizens, could be swept up as “collateral” damage during the raids.

Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 29, July 19, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 29, July 19, 2019

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 29, July 19, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 29, July 19, 2019

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