LATINO VOICES

Immigrant Youth Give Dianne Feinstein 'Donald Trump Award'

It's not meant to be an honor.

A group of mostly undocumented immigrant youth gave Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) the "Donald Trump Apprentice Award for Immigrant Fear Mongering" on Thursday to dissuade her from introducing bills that would force police to cooperate with immigration enforcement. 

Trump came under fire last month for saying many Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are criminals. The protesters, organized by undocumented activist group United We Dream, carried posters of Trump and took applications for the Trump organization to Feinstein's office, saying the senator could fill them out if she chooses to align herself with Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Feinstein said that she was discussing a bill to require local law enforcement to notify ICE before releasing convicted felons suspected of being undocumented. The potential bill would be one of many released after an undocumented convicted criminal was charged for killing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco this month.

Activists say that bills meant to make local law enforcement work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, such as the one Feinstein is proposing, amount to an endorsement of Trump's view of immigrants. 

"I think this is a great way to make it known to these politicians, 'that is the kind of rhetoric you're supporting,'" said 21-year-old protester Astrid Diaz, whose parents are U.S. citizens. "Sanctuary cities allow undocumented communities to feel as though they can report any crimes, any injustices to the police, without fear of deportation."

The proposal Feinstein is considering would be less drastic than some other lawmakers' bills. Many Republicans want to deny federal law enforcement grants to jurisdictions that do not fully cooperate with ICE by holding individuals who would otherwise be released. The House approved such a bill on Thursday afternoon.

Feinstein downplayed the potential legislation to The Huffington Post.

"I wouldn't expect, in the Senate, that you would have any rapid action," she said. "The House might be different; they're probably moving a bill quickly. But we'll take some time."

The protesters did not speak to Feinstein. However, they told her staffers about their reluctance to call the police for fear of being deported. Undocumented immigrants still have a right to "feel like they have the basic human right to report injustices against them," Diaz said.

After the meeting, protester Shaila Ramos did not feel like she got the answer she was looking for.

"I felt like [a Feinstein staffer] used very manipulative language by saying that it is a black and white situation, when it's really not," Ramos said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to indicate that Feinstein said she was working on a bill to require notification to ICE about releasing undocumented immigrants previously convicted of a felony, not all undocumented immigrants.