As the nation attempts to process President Donald Trump’s latest anti-immigrant threats, Latinx community leaders gathered at East Las Vegas Community Center last Saturday for a Know Your Rights panel. What’s going on? Who’s at risk? And what are local leaders doing to fight back?
Trump’s deportation raids have dominated headlines this past week. But as has often been the case with the Trump White House, “alternative facts” have seeped into the mix. Some of the alleged deportations touted in social media did not actually occur. Meanwhile, Trump Administration claims of “targeting criminals” have been debunked by multiple reports of non-criminal immigrants being detained.
This has created a charged atmosphere of fear in immigrant communities throughout America, including here in Nevada. The Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus decided to do something about it here. State Senator Mo Denis (D-North Las Vegas), State Senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas), Assembly Member Olivia Diaz (D-Las Vegas), Assembly Member William McCurdy II (D-Las Vegas), and Assembly Member Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) flew back from Carson City to Las Vegas to reassure Southern Nevada’s immigrant communities that they’re fighting to keep families together.
They assembled a panel of legal eagles to explain immigrants’ legal rights, regardless of status. They also brought in a representative from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to let them know Metro is not taking part in Trump’s immigration raids. They even brought in two special guests who have some say in deciding immigration policy.
“I promise this: I will always be your voice. I will always fight for you.”
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) reassured constituents present that she’s fighting to keep families together regardless of what Trump tweets. “I’m proud that my first bill is to rescind Trump’s executive order to build a deportation force.” She also thanked Governor Brian Sandoval (R) for his refusal to provide the Nevada National Guard to Trump for his deportation force. Cortez Masto had an appointment with Sandoval later that day.
“Now, more than ever, we have to fight for our families & fight for our communities.”
After she delivered her remarks at the podium, Senator Cortez Masto stayed inside for a few more minutes to speak with constituents. On her way out, I asked her about U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) announcing his support for the Bridge Act to extend deportation relief for DREAMers currently on DACA. Cortez Masto said she was “glad to hear” Heller’s on board. She also stated their two offices are communicating on advancing pro-immigrant legislation.
Towards the end of the program, Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) arrived. He began his remarks with his own personal journey from undocumented immigrant to Member of Congress.
“I’ve gone through the struggle of being undocumented. I know what it’s like to live in fear.”
Kihuen spoke of how his own experience motivates him to fight for immigrant communities today. He specifically called out House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) for excluding the Congressional Hispanic Caucus from a scheduled meeting between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Congressional leadership. However, he joined Cortez Masto in praising Governor Sandoval for refusing to participate in Trump’s mass deportation agenda.
Kihuen promised to continue fighting, but he stressed he can’t do it alone.
“Regardless of your status, you have rights in this country. More importantly, you have a voice. We need you to speak up!”
This new administration has already caused additional hardship in Nevada’s immigrant communities. What might come next? We don’t know yet. The highest officials in the White House may not even know yet. But whatever happens, these Nevada leaders want the community to be ready to act.