Local residents who recently organized the protest against ICE in Pasadena are part of The Compassion Support Team, a.k.a. CST2020. The group of volunteers is funded by the community and has been in the trenches of all the mass Black Lives Matter protests in local areas. The group is responsible for bringing water, first aid kits and masks to peaceful protestors. They also help protect demonstrators who get hit by rubber bullets and tear gas.
“We joined the Free the Kids from Cages protest in Los Angeles last week; it was so powerful we felt it was necessary to build on the momentum and bring the same message to our community in Pasadena.” said Lilian Vargas, a representative from CST2020.
The surge in protests against ICE is due, in part, to the conditions in which children are kept in facilities operated by immigration authorities. As of February 2019 the federal government had received more than 4,500 claims of children being sexually abused. There are also numerous reports of children dying under U.S. custody.
Earlier this year, the Council on Foreign Relations reported an increase in the number of children under the age of 18 arriving at the U.S border. The report describes how the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration policies have contributed to overcrowded detention centers, overwhelming the legal system with an increase in legal cases. As a result, children waiting for a trial are being held in detention centers for longer periods of time — violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
The rise in the number of immigrant children has also caused government officials to reshape asylum policies with countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, requiring asylum seekers to file their claims in these countries and wait to be processed before coming to the United States.
In addition, the Trump administration has also narrowed down the asylum criteria for children, terminated funding for their legal representation and subsequently categorized immigration trials for children a non-priority.
This year, the administration also requested to increase the budget for ICE in order to deal with the rising number of immigrants being held at detention centers — shifting money for immigration policies like building a wall to funding more ICE detention centers.
Local residents’ meeting point was Villa Park; they made their way down Los Robles and finished their demonstration at Pasadena City Hall.
ICE has been the target for protestors in the past, but backlash from the public and increased demands to abolish ICE have grown due to the organization’s abuse of power against the most vulnerable in the last couple of years.
But ICE may not be held accountable for criminal claims filed against them because of an announcement made by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) earlier this year.
NARA gave ICE the go ahead to destroy thousands of records — including detention and civil rights complaint records from the first year of the Trump administration. Authorizing ICE to destroy documents will make it very difficult for advocates to prosecute and take legal action against the agency.
Organizations such as the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain ICE records before they are destroyed.
Protestors in Pasadena were not alone in demonstrating against ICE and the inhumane treatment of immigrant children in detention centers. Similar peaceful demonstrations were scheduled on June 20 in Texas.
Residents in Pasadena have stood against immigration policies under the Trump administration in the past and it seems like they will continue to bring awareness to the welfare of immigrant children at our borders.