Posts tagged Los Angeles

Targeted Enforcement Actions

La Migra has started conducted large-scale immigration raids in over half a dozen states, and is alleged to be setting up Ihre Papiere, bitte checkpoints and lurking in or around schools to follow children.

From KVUE.com in Austin (Feb. 10, 2017):

AUSTIN – After a day of reports surrounding Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions at various locations throughout Austin, Congressman Joaquin Castro confirmed a targeted operation by ICE in South and Central Texas. The Mexican Consulate of Austin has since confirmed 44 Mexican immigrants were detained in the past 48 hours in Austin.

. . . As Friday morning continued to roll on, social media began to fill with posts from people reporting ICE raids and arrests throughout the community. KVUE began investigating the reports with law enforcement and Defender Tony Plohetski talked to law enforcement sources at the federal, state, and local levels and none reported any operations outside of their daily action.

Shared Article from KVUE

ICE detains 44 in Austin: What We Know | KVUE.com

After a day of reports surrounding Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions at various locations throughout Austin, Congressman Joaquin Castro conf…

kvue.com


From the Washington Post to-day (Feb. 11, 2017):

U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration. Last month, Trump substantially broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Immigration officials confirmed that agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. But Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said they were part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE dislikes the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions,” she said.

. . . Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.

That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.

. . . ICE agents in the Los Angeles area Thursday took a number of individuals into custody over the course of an hour, seizing them from their homes and on their way to work, activists said.

. . . Spanish language radio stations and the local NPR affiliate in Los Angeles have been running public service announcements regarding the hourly “Know Your Rights” seminars the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles scheduled for Friday and Saturday. By the time the 4 p.m. group began Friday, more than 100 others had gathered at the group’s office in the Westlake neighborhood just outside downtown.

A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents in Texas detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.

. . . Immigrant rights groups said that they were planning protests in response to the raids, including one Friday evening in Federal Plaza in New York City and a vigil in Los Angeles.

“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road New York in New York City, who spoke on a conference call with immigration advocates.

. . . Jeanette Vizguerra, 35, a Mexican house cleaner whose permit to stay in the country expired this week, said Friday during the conference call that she was newly apprehensive about her scheduled meeting with ICE next week.

Fearing deportation, Vizguerra, a Denver mother of four — including three who are U.S. citizens — said through an interpreter that she had called on activists and supporters to accompany her to the meeting.

“I know I need to mobilize my community, but I know my freedom is at risk here,” Vizguerra said.

Shared Article from Washington Post

Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at leas…

The raids mark the first large-scale immigration action since President Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants l…

washingtonpost.com


It hardly needs adding here that this conduct is terrifying, and despicable. There is no nation on earth that is worth more than even a single innocent life, no border that is more important than a refugee, or a dream, or a family, or a plain old honest living. Nationalism is the most toxic idea in the world to individual liberty, to global justice, to fairness, to compassion or to simple human decency. Border controls are a form of population control, one of the most mean-spirited and practically most lethal in the world today. These raids are spreading fear; they are terrorizing a community and destroying families for a worthless political line. Halt these raids, stop deportation, tear down every wall and bury the rubble in the dirt.

L.A. city government announces plans to decriminalize street vending

Thank goodness. They should have done this, anyway, decades ago. But now it is more urgent than ever.

Shared Article from Remezcla

LA Won't Arrest Undocumented Street Vendors Anymore

Some vendors receive warnings or tickets. Others face arrest and criminal misdemeanor charges, which increases their chances for deportation.

Yara Simón @ remezcla.com


War on the Informal Sector, Tamale Control Edition

For your own safety, natch.

450 illegal tamales from Mexico seized at LAX and ‘incinerated’ (not steamed)

Apparently there are illegal tamales.

A passenger at Los Angeles International Airport learned that the hard way earlier this month when he tried to bring pork tamales into the U.S. from Mexico.

The passenger arrived from Mexico on Nov. 2 and was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists, who found 450 pork tamales wrapped in plastic bags in the passenger’s luggage.

The passenger apparently denied that the tamales were made with pork, which is on the list of products that travelers may not bring into the country under customs regulations.

For many families, tamales are a quintessential holiday tradition. Making a batch takes days of planning and exhaustive preparation — all for a tasty bite of corn masa, red chile mole and pork, beef or chicken.

The passenger would have been in the clear had he tried to bring sweet tamales – or those all masa ones that always seem to be left over.

. . . The passenger, who was not identified, was fined $1,000 because authorities believed the tamales were going to be sold and distributed.

As for the tamales, they met their demise. But not in the traditional manner: By being devoured.

All 450 of them were destroyed. The tamales were literally “incinerated,” a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.

–Veronica Rocha, 450 illegal tamales from Mexico seized at LAX
Los Angeles Times, 18 November 2015.

Now of course Customs is being ludicrous, mean-spirited, invasive and petty. This is a heavy fine, and a pointless assault on the freedom of a peaceful traveler who did nothing to violate the rights of even a single living soul. It’s also a waste of perfectly good tamales, and just kind of a damned shame all around. But it is — qué pena! — just the most recent installment in a long, ludicrous history of American government’s mean-spirited and petty war on tamales and tamaleros:

By 1901, more than a hundred tamale wagons roamed Los Angeles, each paying a dollar a month for a city business license. Their popularity spurred others in outlying cities to follow their example. In 1906, Sonoran immigrant Alejandro Morales began selling his wife’s tamales from a wagon he commandeered through Anaheim. Morales, a ditch digger by trade, grew the concept into a restaurant, then a tamale factory, then Alex Foods, a multimillion-dollar empire now known as Don Miguel Mexican Foods.

. . . It wasn’t just Latinos who operated tamale wagons — African Americans, European immigrants and whites also partook in the industry. In 1905, even the YMCA opened a temporary tamale wagon to raise funds so it could send a boy’s track and field team to compete in Portland, Ore.

Strangers coming to Los Angeles, reported The Times, remark at the presence of so many outdoor restaurants, and marvel at the system which permits men … to set up places of business in the public streets … competing with businessmen who pay high rents for rooms in which to serve the public with food.

Not everyone appreciated those first loncheras. L.A.’s press sensationalized any fight, quarrel or theft committed around the eateries, leading to a perception in polite circles that they weren’t safe (typical headline: “Says the Tamale Wagon is a Nursery of Crime”). As early as 1892, officials tried to ban them; in 1897, the City Council proposed to not allow tamale wagons to open until nine at night at the behest of restaurant owners who didn’t like their crowds. Four years later, Police Chief Charles Elton recommended they close at 1 a.m. because they offered “a refuge for drunks who seek the streets when the saloons are closed for the night.”

Los Angeles school trustees constructed kitchens at the city’s high schools (including the first prep cafeteria in the country at Los Angeles High) in 1905 to offer healthier lunches after having “long waged a crusade against the tamale wagons,” according to the Herald. And in 1910, 100 downtown businessmen signed a letter asking the council that tamale wagons be prohibited because they didn’t reflect well on the district.

The tamaleros fought back with their most powerful weapon: their fans. In 1903, when the council tried to outlaw them altogether, they formed a mutual-aid society and presented the council a petition with the signatures of more than 500 customers that read, in part: “We claim that the lunch wagons are catering to an appreciative public, and to deprive the people of these convenient eating places would prove a great loss to the many local merchants who sell the wagon proprietors various supplies.”

They also found an ally in Councilman Fred Wheeler. In 1920, he offered an impassioned defense in council chambers when tamale wagons once again faced the ax. “The tamale put Los Angeles on the map,” he thundered. “These wagons are almost an institution of our city. Cabrillo and his sailors are said to have found them here when they landed. Drive these wagons from our streets? Never!”

Wheeler convinced his fellow councilmen to spare the tamale wagons that year but wasn’t as lucky in 1924, when a resolution booted tamaleros from the plaza. They continued as usual, though, a move that sparked The Times to quip, “Those lunch carts have more lives than the eighty-one incarnations of Methuselah’s nine cats.”

By then, the wagons sold more than tamales — the massive wave of migrants from central Mexico over the previous 20 years had introduced other Mexican delicacies to the city, such as barbacoa, menudo and tacos. But their era was waning. “They belong not to the new order of things,” The Times editorialized in 1924. “They were born of the pueblo — they perish in the metropolis.”

The plaza, of course, transformed into Olvera Street, as a new generation of Angelenos wanted a more refined Mexican culinary experience than that offered by the chaos of Tamale Row. As the automobile grew in popularity, Latino families loaded up their trucks and drove through East Los Angeles selling food before settling in downtown, the precursor to today’s loncheras.

By 1929, when Samuel C. Wilhite received a patent for a “Tamale Inn” — a tamale wagon shaped like its eponymous snack complete with awning, rows of windows, and even steps — there was no need for it. He parked it on Whittier Boulevard and named it the Tamale, where the structure still stands, although it’s currently a beauty salon. The last tamale wagon on Southern California’s roads belonged to the Morales family: their Tamale Wagon, a legendary sprint car that captured the minds of race fans for decades.

–Gustavo Arellano, Tamales, Los Angeles’ First Street Food
Los Angeles Times, 8 September 2011.

Free the tamales and all political prisoners.

See also.

Men in Uniform #3

Here’s a passage from a recent article in the L.A. Times, which is supposedly about a growing problem with alcohol-related offenses by L.A. county sheriff’s deputies. (Actually, what’s growing is the number of police reports of offenses by deputies, not necessarily the number of offenses actually committed. It used to be that L.A. cops would hardly ever report it when they encountered one of their gang brothers drunk and doing something dangerous. Professional courtesy and all that. What’s changed is that the department got some bad P.R. a few years back when a drunken cop started waving his gun around and got his cousin shot. So now they are actually starting to put these things on the books.)

Michael Gennaco, the head of the [County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review], said alcohol-related arrests have nearly tripled since 2004. Alcohol-related incidents in 2009 are at the same pace as last year, he said.

. . . Gennaco’s report also cited two cases in which deputies drew their guns after coming out of bars. In one case, a deputy followed a bar hostess to her car, flashed his badge, told her he’d like to molest her and kissed her on the neck. He displayed his handgun before kissing her again, according to the report. The deputy pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace and was suspended for 15 days, the report said.

— Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times (2009-04-16): Alcohol a growing problem in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, report says

Actually, the newspaper’s summary is kinder to the cop than he deserves. Here’s the full account from the OIR’s full report:

A deputy met a few friends at a bar and struck up a conversation with the bar’s hostess. At approximately 1:30 a.m., the hostess left work. The deputy saw the hostess crossing the street toward a parking garage and offered to walk her to her car.

The hostess declined the offer and encouraged the deputy to rejoin his friends. He then told the hostess that he was a cop. As the hostess continued to walk away from the deputy, he showed her his Department identification card. As the deputy continued to follow her to the dark secluded parking garage, she became increasingly nervous and scared.

As they entered the parking garage, the deputy turned to the hostess and said, You’re young and beautiful, and you probably get this all the time, but I’d really like to molest you. But I’m too nice. The hostess became even more fearful. The deputy then requested a kiss from the hostess, which she declined. The deputy then placed his right hand at the center of the hostess’ back, leaned over and kissed her neck. She moved her head away and told the deputy a second time that he did not have to walk her to her car. He responded that it was okay.

Inside the parking garage, the deputy stated again, Yeah, I’d really like to molest you, but I’m too nice. Then, the deputy asked her whether it looked like he had a gun on him. The hostess replied, That’s creepy. The deputy then asked the hostess whether she wanted to see it–and even though the hostess told him no—the deputy reached into his pant pocket, removed a black semi-automatic handgun and showed it to her. As she neared her car, the hostess thanked the deputy for walking with her and said goodbye. The deputy then moved closer to her and while still holding the handgun in his right hand, kissed her again on the neck. The hostess quickly got into her car and drove out of the parking garage. While she drove off, the hostess saw the deputy standing in the same spot, holding the gun and looking around.

The hostess reported the incident to a local police agency. The case was investigated and presented to a City Attorney’s office. The deputy was ultimately charged with one count of battery. Rather than proceed to trial, the deputy pled nolo contendere to an amended charge of disturbing the peace/causing loud noise. After the criminal conviction, the Department administratively investigated the incident and found that the deputy had violated Department policies. The Department suspended the deputy without pay for 15 days.

— County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review (April 2009): Seventh Annual Report

Of course, the real problem here has more or less nothing to do with alcohol. The problem has to do with a set of legal privileges, a police culture, and an institutional environment where this male deputy could realistically expect that even if he chased a woman trying to get away from him, told her that he’d like to molest her, intimidated her by brandishing his physical advantages and his legal authority, and then forced unwanted sexual contact on her, while she repeatedly said No — and even if he then brandished his gun and forced unwanted sexual contact on her again, even as she continued to say No and tried to get away from the predatory creep — that, after all this had come to light, he’d have no problem staying on at his job, or continuing to carry the badge and the gun that he so eagerly showed off as tools of sexual coercion, and that he would in fact face no personal consequences at all for terrorizing and sexually assaulting a woman, above and beyond pleading out on a misdemeanor nuisance charge, and being given a two week vacation from his job.

The L.A. county sheriff’s office doesn’t have a drinking problem. It has a power problem, and the reason for the problem has a lot to do with the fact that if a deputy turns out to be a creep who abuses his position of power — including male deputies who turn out to get off on using their weapons and their position of power to harass, intimidate, and sexually assault women — there will be no serious attempt to hold them accountable for anything that they may do.

See also:

Professional courtesy

(Boing Boing 2008-04-07, via Roderick Long 2008-04-08.)

It’s 1:45 p.m. on a Wednesday in February and a Toyota Camry is driving west on the 91 Express Lanes, for free, for the 470th time.

The electronic transponder on the dashboard – used to bill tollway users – is inactive. The Camry’s owners, airport traffic officer Rudolph Duplessis and his wife, Loretta, have never had a toll road account, officials say.

They’ve never received a violation notice in the mail, either. Their car is registered as part of a state program which hides their home address on Department of Motor Vehicles records. The agency that operates the tollway does not have legal access to their address.

Their Toyota is one of 996,716 vehicles registered to motorists who are affiliated with 1,800 state and local agencies and who are allowed to shield their addresses under the Confidential Records Program.

An Orange County Register investigation has found that the program, designed 30 years ago to protect police from criminals, has been expanded to cover hundreds of thousands of public employees — from police dispatchers to museum guards — who face little threat from the public. Their spouses and children can get the plates, too.

This has happened despite warnings from state officials that the safeguard is no longer needed because updated laws have made all DMV information confidential to the public.

The Register found that the confidential plate program shields these motorists in ways most of us can only dream about:

  • Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras and breeze along the 91 toll lanes with impunity.

  • Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome.

  • Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that the drivers are one of their own or related to someone who is.

Exactly how many people are taking advantage of their protected plates is impossible to calculate. Like the Orange County Transportation Authority, which operates the tollway, many agencies have automated processes and have never focused on what happens to confidential plate holders. Sometimes police take note of the plate and don’t write a ticket at all.

I would highly doubt that anybody is registering their vehicles on a confidential basis to do anything but protect themselves, Garden Grove Police Capt. Mike Handfield said. I just don’t think people are thinking they’re getting away with anything…. Is the value of having a confidential plate and protecting the law enforcement community from people who might hurt them, is that worth that risk? I believe it is.

The Register asked the DMV for a list of the number of motorists participating in the program and the agencies they claim as an employer. But the DMV refused to provide those records unless The Register paid $8,442, which officials said was the cost of extracting the list from its database.

Some police officers confess that when they pull over someone with a confidential license plate they’re more likely to let them off with a warning. In most cases, one said, if an officer realizes a motorist has a confidential plate, the car won’t be pulled over at all.

It’s an unwritten rule that we would extend professional courtesy, said Ron Smith, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who worked patrol for 23 years. Nine out of 10 times I would.

California Highway Patrol officer Jennifer Hink put it a little differently. It’s officer discretion … (But) just because you have confidential plates doesn’t mean you’re going to get out of a citation.

Many police departments that run red light camera programs systematically dismiss citations issued to confidential plates.

It’s a courtesy, law enforcement to law enforcement, San Francisco Police Sgt. Tom Lee said. We let it go.

— Jennifer Muir, Orange County Register (2008-04-04): Special license plates shield officials from traffic tickets

The term professional courtesy comes from the traditions of medicine: many doctors will not charge money when they treat another doctor’s immediate family. When doctors talk about professional courtesy they are talking about a very old system of mutual aid in which one doctor agrees to do a favor for another, at her own expense, for the sake of collegiality, out of concern for professional ethics (to offer doctors an alternative to having their own family as patients), and because she can count on getting similar services in return should she ever need them.

But when the Gangsters in Blue start talking about professional courtesy, they’re talking about something quite different: a favor done for a fellow gang member at no personal expense, with the bill sent to unwilling taxpayers who must pick up the tab for the roads and parking; and a favor done in order insulate the gangsters and their immediate family from any kind of ethical accountability to the unwilling victims that they sanctimoniously insist on serving and protecting. Professional courtesy in medicine means reciprocity in co-operative mutual aid in healing sick people; professional courtesy in government policing means reciprocity in a conspiracy to make sure that any cop can do just about anything she wants by way of free-riding, disruptive, dangerous or criminal treatment of innocent third parties, with complete impunity, and the rest of us will get the bill for it and a fuck you, civilian if we don’t like it.

To be sure, letting a traffic ticket slide is, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty small thing. But it’s a small thing that is intimately connected with bigger things–with a pervasive, institutionalized system with consequences that are as terrible as they are inevitable and predictable.