March 27, 2017 - After months of promises from the Trump administration and a still yet-to-be-enacted executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a formal threat against large cities (such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago) that have barred most law enforcement in the area from routinely checking immigration status for individuals during traffic stops and arrests. These cities, often called “sanctuary cities” by most media outlets, refuse to lock up or deport undocumented immigrants without warrant…or at least they claim to.

What most Trump supporters and cabinet members refuse to acknowledge is the overwhelming truth that cutting funding for these areas does not directly defer undocumented immigrants from settling there. In most cases, the proposed budget cuts harm education, transportation, and development for the poorest areas of affected cities rather than increasing defense against truly dangerous criminals. Additionally, as many Republican leaders have already proposed, Trump and Sessions have displayed support for morphing law and customs/immigration enforcement (I.C.E.) into a singular system, causing further distrust between immigrant-heavy communities and law enforcement.

On September 6th, 2017, with the formal announcement to end DACA released just a day before, the House voted to strip funding for any city that blocks “any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual” in the words of representative Jason Smith (R-MO).With this change, the ability for anyone appearing of non-white descent to be targeted by immigration officials increases tremendously, regardless of if they've committed any crimes. ‘La migra’, common slang for I.C.E. in many Latinx communities, is already thought to be one of the most cruel agencies, often deporting nonviolent undocumented workers and pulling them from their families rather than investigating dangerous criminals and traffickers that pose real threats to society.

In the eyes of many, Democrats and Independents alike, the proposed cuts are nothing but lucrative blackmail. As Smith elaborated further, “funds in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funds [will] only go to cities and states that uphold federal law”. If passed through the Senate, the economic disruption for so many of these "sanctuary cities" would be beyond measure. Money will soon be funneled out of these communities, most of which already severely underfunded when it comes to public services such as schools and parks, but those who agree with Trump’s policies will begin to see negative effects as well. With growing tensions between immigrants and law enforcement as well as citizens and undocumented immigrants, Republicans and the Trump administration will simply raise tensions within the United States’ most diverse communities. Ultimately, cutting funding for sanctuary cities will not succeed in decreasing crime or the number of undocumented immigrants in this nation, but will succeed in increasing division, distrust, and additional racially-charged violence in our most celebrated metropolitan areas.

Updated: May 15, 2018

We tend to associate the lack of access to resources with nations that are impoverished fiscally and un-advanced technologically. Thus, when we are prompted to answer questions like "What kinds of places don’t have access to clean water?” we respond with Africa, Asia, and Latin America, referring to the news about the lethal cholera epidemic in the Republic of Congo, the arsenic contamination of the Indus River Basin in Pakistan, and the plastic pollution of Taiwan’s rivers and streams. Undrinkable, unusable, unreliable.

But solely associating water contamination and pollution with Africa, Asia, and Latin America is precarious. In doing so, we allow American individuals and communities to slip into an unfaltering state of blissful ignorance. After all, these are problems and issues we don’t experience in the United States. We’ve got an over abundance of resources--land, capital, labor, every good and service conceivable. However, is this assumption correct?

Activity within recent years has indicated otherwise. As evident through the water crises in Flint, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and dozens of other cities across the nation, clean drinking water is becoming increasingly unavailable and inaccessible. Why, then, is this happening in the United States? In order to answer this question, we are going to analyze the water crisis in, specifically, California.


In April of 2012, Jerry Brown signed AB 658 on behalf of the state of California, and declared that water is a human right. Despite this, more than 200 thousand Californians do not have access to it. Perhaps we can attribute this to the drought? Not quite. According to Peter Gleick, Ph.D., President of the Pacific Institute, “It’s not a new problem with the drought, but the drought has worsened the problem” (California Climate and Health).

Worsened, indeed. Californians are desperately sapping gallons of dirty water from the soil beneath their feet. But multiple concerns arise from the utilization of this specific source of water. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Society, approximately one-fifth of California’s groundwater contains dangerous pollutants and contaminants in undiluted concentrations. They include, but are not limited to, uranium, nitrate, arsenic, and manganese. These chemicals are linked to various diseases and illnesses, including cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, and neurological disorders. This is beyond concerning, considering the fact that most of these chemicals are categorized as lethal substances by numerous state and federal regulatory policies. All of the aforementioned seem to be hitting communities hard, which is unacceptable. So why is nothing being done?

The lack of advocacy and outreach for these communities indicates the involvement of underlying socio-economic and political factors. In the United States, a foundation of inequality has been maintained throughout history. What we are witnessing is not the work of a single individual, organization, foundation, or bureau. It is the accumulation of decades upon decades of discrimination. In this specific circumstance, water has been redefined as a commodity, it’s purpose to be bought and sold. In turn, an entire institutionalized system has evolved around its production, manufacturing, and distribution. From the control, or lack thereof, of this commodity, specific power and wealth is derived. With a basic comprehension of these facts, we can begin to explain why exactly white communities seem to be rewarded and communities of color seem to suffer. This is a system that punishes poverty and rewards wealth, and is characteristically apathetic, cruel, and immoral.

So, is the drought really over?

Perhaps not for communities of color. With incomes that land them far below the federal poverty line, they split their weekly paychecks between purchasing gallons of water and paying the rent for their homes. Granted, temporary relief comes in the form of water trucks sent by graciously charitable organizations. But these solutions provided for them are hardly sustainable, leaving them vulnerable and defenseless, lacking adequate resources to protect themselves and their families. That is the reality they live, day in and day out. The purpose of this article is not to inspire guilt and remorse. I’m not attempting to privilege anyone. But I do think we should, collectively, realize how dangerous the commodification of human rights is, even if it does not affect us personally. Because for some Americans, lack of clean water is a reality.

  • Amanda Gómez

Updated: Apr 18, 2018

Every talk that white parents have had to give to their children regarding a school shooting has been given to kids of color five or ten years earlier- about police.

Put aside the fact that Black Lives Matter protesters never received nationally sanctioned events, or that the Brown Berets were infiltrated by the CIA rather than celebrated by congressional representatives. The history of youth activism and police presence at high schools in the United States is blatantly racist and destructive to citizens of color.

What perhaps most students who took part in the March 14th walkouts forgot was the historical foundations of the walkout movement- the mistreatment and criminalization of young Latinos and Chicanos within their own schools. The results of the March 14th walkout appear eerily similar to the causes of the 1968 East Los Angeles/ Sal Castro walkouts, not due to the student activism, but due to the increasing sense of incarceration on a school campus. Students taking part in the 1968 walkouts left their classes in the true belief that they would be dying for their cause, not the worry that they’d be marked absent from class. This fear didn’t come from the idea that fellow students would hurt them, or that outsiders from neighboring communities would protest against them (though they would). Chicanos and Latinos taking part in the East Los Angeles walkouts were in fear of their lives at the hands of white police officers sent to patrol their neighborhoods during these organizations, and in the days that would follow almost twenty students were arrested and a still uncounted number were beaten by officers on the front steps of their schools.

White children across the country are currently fighting for their right to a safe education… but don’t students of color deserve that as well?

For students of color, sheriff’s deputies and police forces patrolling campus are just as dangerous as armed teachers- perhaps worse. For myself and other students of color attending predominantly white high schools, the increasing police presence is exactly what we’ve strived to escape. My background in high school education is derived from a father who attended school with fellow migrant farmworker children and a mother attending Pomona’s Garey High School, in which less than a third of the student body is able to complete CSU/UC requirements due to the focus upon funding for police officers rather than guidance counselors, better materials, and access to updated curriculum. Needless to say, the effect that increased police presence has had on predominantly black and brown communities and schools in particular is heartbreaking.

If police officers are still ill-trained to respond to citizens of color for the crime of existing, how can we trust in their ability to remain calm in the threatening situation of black and brown students receiving a high school education and being accepted to prestigious universities? Now, rather than fear another white “lone wolf”, I fear that perhaps my 100 pound 5’1 self is threatening enough to kill, or that by some miracle my phone is mistaken for something much worse.

In the almost twenty years that predominantly white schools have considered and imposed greater police presence willingly (juxtaposed to the ‘mandatory’ presence at majority African American and Latino high schools since their creation), not one school shooting has been prevented by an officer. Rather, over one million students have been arrested for primarily non-violent offenses, those numbers disproportionately representing students of color and students with disabilities.

Safety on campus should not be restricted to or valued more so due to a student’s color of skin, but now even predominantly white schools are headed down a dark path towards the school-to-prison pipeline and will sacrifice hard working non-white students as it does so. The actions of white school districts and the complicity of parents is a direct attack on the rights of children of color to receive a safe education alongside white children.

Imposing greater campus ‘security’ - be it armed guards, undercover police officers, or guns in the hands of every faculty member- simply reaffirms the idea of people of color feeling retributions for the actions of whites, and any advocate for true equality when it comes to the gun control debate should recognize so.

We simply do not need more cops than counselors.

For more information regarding historical police brutality and the rights of youth in the United States as it relates to police encounters, visit www.aclu.org


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