Photos by Soren Sum.
Various religious and community leaders gathered for a call-to-action meeting on the grounds of Long Beach City Hall earlier today to demand that Mayor Robert Garcia and the city council affirm Long Beach as a sanctuary city, with the hope of the city rejecting any policies declared by President-Elect Donald Trump and his administration, according to Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) officials.
Speakers from organizations such as CLUE, Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition (LBIRC), Long Beach Islamic Center (LBIC) and others spoke about the horrors of the ensuing policies by Trump and how it has affected undocumented immigrants and AMEMSA (Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim/South Asian) communities.
Last month, in the wake of the election, Mayor Robert Garcia hosted a rally in support of the Muslim American community. Yet, the city has not formally adopted the title of a sanctuary city, unlike Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, to name a few. Muslim Americans and immigrants are feeling especially vulnerable, given recent threats, such as one threatening genocide, aimed at the Islamic Center of Long Beach, huge motivating factor in their seeking of a formal sanctuary city policy.
Alex Montances, community organizer for the Filipino Migrant Center, told the audience that there was fear and concern about the Trump presidency that runs deep in the Filipino community.
One of the center’s interns, who is a Filipina immigrant and college student, said she experienced discrimination the day after the presidential election.
The intern was walking on campus when she was “blocked by two other students who yelled at her and told her to go back home,” Montances said. The yelled, “Go back home where you came from they said,” according to Montances “She was horrified and when they finally left her alone, she learned that other immigrant students had been intimidated too by the same attackers.”
Attacks such as these are not new since Trump’s presidential victory, but Montances said he was shocked to learn such incidents were happening within the Long Beach community. He further told the audience that more attacks on undocumented immigrants, workers and other marginalized communities are to be expected.
“Many of our own Filipino youth workers, friends and families have come to [the migrant center] concerned about their safety, fear of deportation and being separated from their loved ones,” said Montances. “These attacks will happen in your congregation, school and workplace. We need to be ready to act.”
Other organizations at the gathering had similar views regarding the future Trump presidency on undocumented immigrants and minority groups. Faith and unity played key roles when representatives of religious organizations spoke out. The meeting addressed these values in resistance to the issues presented and religious organizations spoke about the unity and faith everyone can embody to protect those marginalized.
“We are seeing leaders in other cities stand up and have an immediate response to the president-elect’s policies,” said Community Congregational United Church of Christ’s (CCUCC) Rev. Samuel Pullen. He closed his speech demanding that Mayor Garcia and the Long Beach City Council take a stand to protect their city. “We now want to hear from our own city leaders in Long Beach.”
Pullen, aside from addressing issues faced by the coming Trump presidency and how consolidation of unity can adversely resist such issues, demanded the mayor and city council declare Long Beach a sanctuary city and pledge non-cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as oppose registries based on religious identity or national origin.
“We need to come together as a community to protect everyone,” said LBIRC representative and DACA recipient Maribel Cruz to the audience. “All the families here in Long Beach need the support of all elected officials.”
Pastor of Los Altos United Methodist Church Rev. Melinda Teter-Dodge, prior to the closing, announced a march that will continue addressing these issues on Saturday, December 17, at 10:00AM at Signal Hill Park. Teter-Dodge told the audience that Mayor Garcia is expected to make an appearance.
“There is a lot of anxiety and unknown facts that people are terrified about [the Trump presidency],” said Irantzu Pujadas, Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s senior field representative, who also attended the event as a speaker. “It is important to be united at this time and we are committed to defend and protect these communities.”