The Point Magazine
Writer and Editor
I served as a copyeditor in fall 2016, returned as a freelance web writer for fall 2017, and was a story editor from fall 2018-spring 2019. During my time as a freelancer, I published a three-part series on immigration and a list article about anxiety management techniques.
A look at immigration in California
An Overview of the Immigrant Population in California
December 13, 2017
Over 10 million immigrants call California home. While people from across the world have emigrated to the United States, the majority have come from Latin America, Asia and Mexico.
The oil, agricultural and entertainment industries drew millions of immigrants to California in the 1920s and 1930s, thereby bolstering Southern California’s economy according to Calisphere states. Although Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics all settled in California during the 20th century, Hispanics were the dominant group of that time.
Starting in 1769, groups of Spanish missionaries and soldiers came to California and built missions throughout the state’s southern region, a region which native peoples inhabited. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, many rancheros ventured to California according to Lonely Planet. In a fight over California territory in 1846, the U.S. won the battle against Mexico, and California became an independent republic according to a PBS timeline.
In trading with China, Japan and Korea in the 19th century, Asian immigration to America increased. The Chinese came to California during theGold Rush in 1848 due to “waves of civil unrest and catastrophic famines” in China according to Immigration to the United States.
Although Americans previously welcomed millions of immigrants, the futures of immigrants dimmed in the early 1900s, especially for Asian immigrants. First the government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, then excluded Japanese laborers in 1907, denied entry from India in 1917 and eventually restricted immigration for all Asians from the “Asia-Pacific Triangle” under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 Oxford Research Encyclopedias reports.
The Immigration Act of 1917 excluded several poor and mentally disabled people, among others: epileptics, idiots, paupers and vagrants. In section three of this law, immigrants with mental and physical illnesses or defects were singled out.
“Persons not comprehended with any of the foregoing excluded classes who are found to be and are certified by the examining surgeon as being mentally or physically defective, such physical defect being of a nature which may affect the ability of an alien to earn a living,” the law states.
The act became the first in a series of immigration acts.
More immigration restrictions came during World War I, due to some Americans’ beliefs that mass immigration heavily impacted the nation in general according to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services article.
World War II brought more immigrants from myriad of nations to the U.S. due to developments in the aerospace and shipping industries. During the war, the U.S. resourced Mexican American workers because they were a cheap labor source. This resourcing allowed the U.S. to develop the Bracero Program. As a result, Mexican workers entered the U.S. with certain protections on their “short-term… agricultural labor contracts.”
After the end of World War II and during the second half of the 20th century, immigrants eventually received more rights. In the 1948 Displaced Persons Act and Refugee Relief Act of 1953, European refugees were given greater rights, such as additional immigrant visas and permanent residency. Later on, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 formally ended the “national origins quota system.”
As immigration has increased over the past few decades, the U.S. has become a melting pot of nationalities. Over 40 million people in America were born in a different country and make up a high 13.4 percent of the population according to Pew Research. Today, the majority of immigrants come from Mexico, China and India, with about one million new people setting foot in the U.S. each year. Immigrants continue shaping the nation’s culture, economy and demographics today.
California’s Identity as a Sanctuary State
December 13, 2017
In a country with a president that openly vocalizes his resistance towards illegal immigration, one Democratic state stands with its non-citizen residents––through its identity as a sanctuary state. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 54 on Oct. 5, in opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Sen. Kevin de León authored the bill, which will officially take effect in January.
Sanctuary cities limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities, while sanctuary states have passed laws restricting how much law enforcement officers can assist federal immigration agents. California, Oregon, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont are currently the only five sanctuary states in the country.
A legislative fact sheet from CAIR Californiastates the bill’s purpose is to protect Californians by ensuring state and local resources are not used for mass deportations, separating families and, over time, hurting California’s economy. The fact sheet attributes the present issue to the Trump administration creating plans to “enlist local law enforcement as immigration enforcers, erect new detention facilities, discourage asylum seekers, and speed up the deportation process.”
According to Brown’s official statement, the bill directs California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, to implement “model policies” that local and state health, education, labor and judiciary officials can follow as they address immigration. Brown further states the bill does not block Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from performing their duties because they can “use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California.”
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will provide public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” Brown said in his statement.
In an official statement, de León states the new act “will limit immigration enforcement at public schools, hospitals and courthouses,” regardless of a person’s immigration status. He believes the new legislation will prevent Trump from splitting families up and damaging California’s economy.
“Over and over again the President has deployed fear and division to advance his ambitions. The result of this constant barrage of dog whistles is a sickening rise in racism turning American against American,” de León said in his statement.
De León also acknowledges how the act will hinder Trump’s deportation efforts.
“The California Values Act won’t stop ICE from trolling our streets––it will not provide full sanctuary––but it will put a kink in Trump’s perverse and inhumane deportation machine,” de León said in his statement.
SB 54 has become a hot topic of debate, especially among California law enforcement agencies and even reaching to the White House where Trump’s immigration chief thinks the bill will prevent officers from performing their jobs correctly, which in turn will result in more arrests.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sheriff Jim McDonnell explained in a statement how he originally opposed the bill because he did not want law enforcement acting as “immigration agents.” However, he now supports SB 54 due to recent amendments.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Brown and his staff and members of the State Senate and Assembly, we can move beyond the bill’s early false premise that local law enforcement was going to act as immigration agents,” McDonnell said in his statement.
Although some law enforcement organizations originally opposed the bill and now support it, The National Sheriffs Association believes California’s sanctuary state law is “reckless and dangerous” because “dangerous people” can harm California residents according to executive director Jonathan Thompson.
“We’re talking about criminals, dangerous people. We’re not talking about people with parking tickets and people with paying jobs. We’re talking about people that are systematically in our systems. And we have to get them out of this country. We have to get them into the hands of ICE and move on,” Thompson said.
Brown’s decision has not gone unnoticed. An official ICE statement from ICE director Tom Homan articulates how Brown’s decision to sign SB 54 will hinder ICE from carrying out its federal duties because it will practically “[eliminate] all cooperation and communication” with California law enforcement and “[prohibit] local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.”
As a result, ICE claims large-scale arrests in local neighborhoods and places of work will occur and detained individuals will be housed outside the state far from their families. The organization seeks cooperation with law enforcement and explains how they remain committed to public safety.
“Despite the severe challenges that this law creates for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators,” Homan said in his statement. “ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all sheriffs and local elected officials. This misguided legislation will severely undermine those efforts.”
End of DACA Affects Los Angeles Residents
December 13, 2017
President Trump rocked the world of 800,000 people—28.7 percent of those in California and 13 percent in Los Angeles—after he officially ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act on Sept. 4. The United States government stopped accepting applications on Oct. 5. Thousands of youth have lost protection since Trump ended the act according to United We Dream.
According to a United States Citizenship and Immigration Servicesreport, practically 40,000 DACA recipients have adapted to Lawful Permanent Resident status, but 760,000 do not have LPR status. The USCIS continues adjudicating requests for those who filed an initial or renewal DACA request and application before Sept. 5.
The United States Department of Homeland Security states that DACA allows children who came to the U.S. and met certain criteria, such as “lacking any current lawful immigration status,” to request a renewable deferred action for two years as well as eligibility for work authorization. This criteria includes: arrival in the U.S. before age 16, less than 31 years old, residence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, pursuing education or possession of a GED or diploma, or were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces.
Although DACA does not provide lawful status, recipients can apply for “temporary protection from deportation, [a] work authorization, and… a social security number” according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Against DACA, in June 2017, nine state attorneys, one attorney general and the governor of Idaho filed a lawsuit against Trump because they deemed it “unlawful.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the DACA Act on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at the Justice Department according to CNN News. Trump feels compassion for Dreamers, but he wants to help them in the method he considers to be right.
“I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” Trump said before a tax reform meeting.
Trump gave Congress six months to legalize DACA and believes they will come up with effective legislation according to The Washington Post.
Trump requested that Congress revise specific aspects of DACA for its extension, including “stronger crackdowns on… sanctuary cities, building his… border wall and overhauling the country’s green card system” Fox Newsreports. Around 2,000 leaders signed a letter asking Trump to protect Dreamers.
The DACA Act nearly led to a “government shutdown” in December. California Sen. Kamala Harris spoke at an immigration rally outside the Capitol on Dec. 6 and urged Americans to support Dreamers according to an NPR article.
“I’m not sure what to think about where this administration stands, but I know that we, as a country, and leaders of this country, in particular in the United States Congress, need to stand with these Dreamers and give them the protections they deserve,” Harris said in an interview.
According to NPR Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said America was founded on ideas of “opportunity and fairness,” so finding a solution for Dreamers is necessary.
“We need to find solutions to our nation’s current immigration problems starting with a solution for Dreamers,” Ros-Lehtinen said.