ZAZ COMMUNICATIONS By Javier Rodriguez   Los Angeles      16 June 2017

ICE is silently  raiding, hunting, and SEEKING every possible opening in the courts, school environments, work sites, researching all 800,000 DACA  DREAMers, immigrant activists  and the homes of the nation’s 11.3 undocumented immigrants, as it recently happened -twice in the same home-  in LA’s Boyle Heights community of 100,000 population, of which 95% are Latinos. ICE raided and arrested a mother which immediately sparked intense community pressure led by her activist daughter Claudia Rueda, and, in a matter of days she was set free.

Claudia is an unregistered DREAMer, a CSULA student, a community leader, a passionate unafraid activist and she is not a criminal. The only spot on her record is a civil disobedience detention for defending the undocumented.

With these credentials, the LA ICE Brass politically decided to arrest her and deport her, as they did with Elvira Arellano in 2007. The young activist was then spied upon by ICE agents close to her home, not far from where I live. When she stepped out for an errand, she was grabbed and immediately sent to the San Diego Detention Center.

Again the community went up in arms and organized protests demanding her freedom in Boyle Heights and in San Diego. Creatively, the area’s leaders and activists had a press event in front of Claudia’s home. The protesters and Claudia supporters are part of the people enraged against the gross scapegoating of immigrants and Latinos by the Trump Administration. Leonardo Vilchis of Union de Vecinos, asked a poignant question to the hundreds of thousands watching the news: Are we going to have to stop ICE from taking our people in our own neighborhood?

Could organized Boyle Heights community prevented Claudia’s ICE arrest?

A few days later, another protest ensued to also demand her freedom. This time it was called by UTLA, the 50,000 militant teachers union, Claudia’s family, students and community activists. Shunning the traditional downtown sites, organizers staged it at the symbolic Roosevelt High School with a 6,000 student body 97% Latino.  It is also Claudia’s Alma Mater and mine.  

This school has witnessed a historic set of generations of struggle by students, teachers, staff and parents going back the 1968-70 student walkouts to the 2006-07 Latino Mega marches and boycotts, when again  many schools walked out and marched to the tune of 370,000 students  in California and Southwestern states, and Roosevelt never wavered. 

These socio-political accomplishments are planted historical marks which unfortunately are not part of the present curriculum of the school system. Even though, the Student Walkouts or student strikes of the late sixties were part of the civil rights struggle for equality which accused the school boards of institutional racism and discrimination.

36 years later, it was clearly the issues of immigration reform, separation of families, the anguish and widespread fear of raids and deportations. Students joined their parents in the marches of millions of immigrants and Latinos in the immigrant Spring of 2006.  Roosevelt High along with hundreds of other schools and were key in defeating the infamous xenophobic Sensenbrenner Law which, like today, criminalized immigrants and anyone who in any form assisted the undocumented.

Claudia was set free by the people’s protest and her defense.  By winning her freedom, the community has won a major victory that is spreading like wildfire in the nation. Also, the fact the supportive events were staged and televised from Claudia’s eastside neighborhood, set a precedent and are highly important because the psychology of fear in the barrios is real and deep. I assume that after a rest she will again join the trenches of the fight against ICE, Homeland Security and the embattled ultra-right winger Pres. Donald Trump.

 

BARRIO DEFENSE NETWORK AGAINST ICE

Last January, before Trump was seated as President, I met with leaders of the Hermandad Mexicana TransNacional as a political advisor to discuss what is to be done, to defend immigrants and Latinos against the Trump Administration brutal attacks on all Americans.  After listening carefully to the women leaders of this historic organization, I proposed the making of a Community Defense Network to directly confront and block ICE from the moment their patrol caravans enter the neighborhoods to the point of arrest. To do this the network must be built and composed of residents volunteers from, Hermandad members, the local churches, Unions, small businesses, and the vital piece, “The Social Networks”.

Javier Rodriguez is a co-founder of the March 25 Coalition, a journalist, a blogger and a Media and Political Advisor

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