Interesting profile piece out of the Los Angeles Times this week which you might want to take a peek at. It’s a lengthy look at a project started by photographer Miguel Luna during the heated final stretch of the 2016 election (when it was still taken as gospel that Hillary Clinton was going to win) where he was asking current or former illegal immigrants to allow him to take pictures of them and handing out buttons with the letter “U” on them. He intended to highlight the contributions and successes of the “formerly undocumented” in the community along with their familes, demonstrating their pride and showing that they were unafraid.
Then November 8th happened and, well… things began to change.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Luna said. “We were all walking around like zombies.”
No longer would undocumented people out themselves during protests. Or chain themselves to federal buildings to demand reform. Or confidently share their names with the media.
Many today are anxious even showing up to work.
Luna doesn’t include people who are still undocumented in his project. He’s afraid of putting them in harm’s way.
Part of the story that Luna tells for the article is about his own arrival in the United States. He came here illegally from Columbia with his mother who was apprehended by the Border Patrol during the attempt. It took her “two more tries” before she finally got here and was able to stay. For his part, Luna says he “kept his family legal status a secret until he became a permanent resident.”
What this actually translates to is an admission that he obtained his lawful permanent resident status under false pretenses. You’re not supposed to get a green card (or whatever he currently has) unless you come into the country in the normal, legal fashion of those seeking to follow the rules. Of course, I doubt anyone will take action at this point, but it does demonstrate some flaws which are baked into the immigration system.
But more to the point is the reaction of the other illegal immigrants or those with illegals in their family who now don’t want to participate in public art projects such as this. As Luna himself points out, they also are less willing to go take part in public protests or even “show up for work.”
Pardon my being so rude as to point this out, but… that’s the idea. If you’re in the country illegally you’re not supposed to be at work. Both you and the person who hired you are breaking the law. You probably should be afraid to go out and protest in the streets because if immigration enforcement officials see you they should be taking you into custody and deporting you. That’s also how it’s supposed to work. And if the families of illegal immigrants are “afraid” to speak out, that’s with good cause too. If you knowingly harbor, provide shelter to or transport an illegal alien you are violating federal law.
I realize this was supposed to be some sort of a puff piece talking up all of Luna’s “great work” in the community. But it’s actually an object lesson in how a new administration with a new attitude toward law enforcement can make a change without conducting one additional raid or building a single mile of new border fencing. If people who are behaving in a criminal fashion are afraid to be out and about, the system is working as intended.