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Crash of Immigrants Fleeing ICE Becomes Cause Celebre for LA Times

Two undocumented immigrants who died in a crash while fleeing from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents should be viewed as victims of President Trump’s aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, according to a news story in the Los Angeles Times.

“ICE enforcement ends in death of farmworkers, leaving anger and questions,” reads the headline on the story published Thursday. [1]

“A month ago, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents had trained their sights on Santos Hilario Garcia. In the early morning darkness, they followed in two black Jeeps as he and his wife, Marcelina Garcia Profecto, dropped their teenage daughter off at Robert F. Kennedy High School,” the Times’ Brittney Mejia wrote.

“Minutes later, the couple were dead, having crashed their truck as they tried to escape the agents. ICE officials later said that the couple had not been their target – Garcia happened to have matched the description of the person they were after.”

Mejia reported that Garcia and Perfecto had just dropped off their daughter and turned onto a busy road when emergency lights flashed behind them. They stopped, but as the deportation officer got out of his Jeep, the couple took off. The officer said he followed but did not pursue the vehicle with emergency lights or sirens.

ICE said three witnesses who spoke with the police department in Delano, Calif., the Central Valley town where the crash occurred, said they did not see anyone pursuing the company. But surveillance video shows an immigration agents’ vehicle traveling the same road in the same direction with “emergency lights flashing.”

That created enough controversy to set off a furious blame game in the town, the Times reported.

“There have been protests, with some Delano officials and residents blaming ICE and the Trump administration for being too aggressive in their crusade against illegal immigration,” Mejia wrote. “ICE has blamed the deaths on California’s ‘sanctuary’ policies, which the agency says put it in a position to target, and sometimes arrest, immigrants without legal status who were not initially sought for removal.”

It is called a “crusade” when the Trump administration seeks to enforce immigration law, and  “sanctuary cities” is set off in quotes, indicating this is a term others use, but not the writer, for cities that block immigration enforcement efforts.

These standoffs have become a trend, the writer implies, because Trump officials are serious about enforcing the law.

“Aggressive immigration enforcement by the Trump administration has become an issue across the nation,” Mejia wrote. “Last month, top federal officials and the president condemned Oakland’s mayor, Libby Schaaf, after she warned the community of upcoming ICE sweeps.”

Mejia does not mention that it’s not enforcement that became the issue but illegal immigration itself – the costs that come with it and the seeming absence from Washington of any real will to address the situation – or that the president was elected in part because of his promise to take action.

Mejia seems to approve of a situation in which immigrants in the country illegally are paid little to do the hardest jobs and is intent on prolonging it. She writes of the officials in the town who began as migrant workers in the fields and how the mayor “was a migrant farmworker, bouncing from town to town across the state with her parents and siblings.”

Delano, she writes, is a center for growing table grapes.

“The city’s vineyards were the scene of a September 1965 grape strike, led by Filipino workers who were soon joined by civil rights icon Cesar Chavez to fight back against unfair treatment,” she wrote. “The movement led to the formation of the United Farm Workers of America.”