New president, new policies: California, immigration and the shifting American Dream
In a string of executive orders just days into his presidency, Donald Trump set in motion a number of immigration policy changes, including the suspension of refugee admission to the United States for 120 days, a ban on Syrian refugees indefinitely and severe restrictions on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations. On Thursday, February 9, Take Two's A Martinez and Dorian Merina traveled to the University of Redlands to explore these changes with Xiadani, a DACA recipient and University of Redlands student; Jarrod Burguan, chief of the San Bernardino Police Department; Niels Frenzen, clinical professor of law and director of the Immigration Clinic at USC's Gould School of Law; Edina Lekovic, public affairs consultant for the Muslim Public Affairs Council; and Steve Wuhs, assistant provost for internationalization at University of Redlands.
The panelists discussed their experiences with the immigration system, issues of enforcement and how communities talk about immigration. Some highlights from the conversation are below:
Chief Jarrod Burguan on San Bernardino Police Department’s enforcement policy:
"Our policy says we will not stop anybody for the sole purpose of determining their immigration status. We do have a caveat in our policy that allows, if an officer has somebody detained for a legitimate reason ... and there is a question as to whether that person is in violation of federal law, you can hold the person just long enough to contact immigration officials and see if they want that person. That's contained in the policy. I can't tell you the last time that's ever actually happened."
Niels Frenzen on whether California can issue protections for certain groups:
"California, like any other state, cannot have laws that directly impact the admission or the deportation of non citizens ... but we have various laws that protect or provide financial aid to undocumented students or DACA-mented students who are going to the Cal State or the community colleges or the UCs. So there is an extensive body of law at the state level in California that is more welcoming than a lot of other states."
Xiadani on her experiences and actions she’s taken:
"At 4 years old, I didn't ask my parents to bring me here, and I think it's important to note that I've been trying in all of the smalls ways that I can to remedy that. I've had an application in to become a citizen since before I got here. I now have DACA ... I have employment authorization. I go to school here with that DACA and I also have an application for political asylum, because as a queer person, it's not safe to be in Mexico and be out in the ways that I feel like I need to be in order to be myself."
Steve Wuhs on the challenges of discussing divisive issues:
"The polarized political environment we're in is challenging in the classroom, because there are boundary lines that one runs into while teaching that are difficult to navigate. Part of being at a liberal arts institution is questioning those fundamental assumptions with which you've been raised, but this environment is one that's not always conducive to that. "
Edina Lekovic on the state of the immigration system:
"The system is broken, that's the fact that we start from, and all of the different aspects of it are broken. For refugee applicants, we have to remember they're fleeing from war and conflict and a lack of basic stability in their lives ... To go from uncertainly and instability into uncertainty and instability in the United States is a sad state to be in."
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Photo credit: Quincy Surasmith / KPCC