LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Dozens of protesters took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon to protest the two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump designed to crack down on illegal immigration.
The president signed two orders Wednesday which jump-start construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and strip funding for so-called sanctuary cities; those that don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
In response, demonstrators gathered outside City Hall Wednesday afternoon, while lawyers representing the immigration community held a news conference.
"We have to be vigilant, we have to take him extremely serious, and we also have to fight back," said Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
In Grand Park, Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his thoughts on the executive orders.
"These are folks outside our city telling us, potentially, how to police our city, potentially, how to promote our economy," Garcetti said. "And I think we know better than anywhere else what is working, an economic boom fueled by immigrants, trust with police fueled by policies that make sure local cops do local crime enforcement and federal officials do federal enforcement."
Trump signed his orders at the offices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he called them a benefit to both the United States and Mexico. And he told DHS agents and workers that it would make their jobs easier.
"For too long, your offices and agents haven't been allowed to properly do their jobs," Trump said. "You know that, right? ... But that's all about to change. And I'm very happy about it and you're very happy about it. From here on out, I'm asking all of you to enforce the laws of the United States of America. They will be enforced and enforced strongly."
He said his actions were in response to what he called "the unprecedented surge of illegal arrivals" in the country.
"A nation without borders is not a nation," he said. "Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders."
Trump also restarted the "Secure Communities" program that helped the Obama administration deport more than 409,000 immigrants in 2012, according to The Associated Press.
"Well I've been policing this city for 40 years, and I don't know how much policing experience the president has, but I have quite a bit, and I believe in the way we police Los Angeles," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "I believe the way you build trust, you build witnesses, you build people who cooperate with local law enforcement, and you keep your city safer."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell responded to how an end to the federal catch-and-release program might impact undocumented immigrants who are being detained in county jail.
"No, nothing will change from our standpoint. The document that was put out today talked about increasing the number of people working for the federal government who would be involved in immigration issues. That doesn't change anything we do here in Los Angeles."
California Republican delegate Felix Veiga applauded Trump's immigration policies.
"There are a lot of people, a lot of Latino people, that are supporting him in regards to his immigration policies and are happy that he's starting right away to do the things that he said he would do," Veiga said.
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