Latinx Files: As immigration stunts continue, Los Angeles responds

Rainbow illustration of a mother and daughter walking in a park
Ambar, 28, and her 10-year-old daughter at MacArthur Park on Tuesday.
(Illustration by Diana Ramirez Santacruz; photos by Gary Contreras / Los Angeles Times)

Last week, a bus containing 42 asylum seekers arrived in Los Angeles from McAllen, Texas. The trip was arranged at the direction of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, his latest act of political theater orchestrated to score points against President Biden and Democrats over a so-called open border policy that doesn’t actually exist.

“Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to,” said Abbott, “particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status.”

“Until President Biden steps up and does his job, Texas will continue busing migrants to sanctuary cities to provide relief to our overwhelmed border towns,” Abbott Press Secretary Andrew Mahaleris said.


On Tuesday, Times reporter Hamed Aleaziz reported that Biden’s new immigration policy has “dramatically lowered the percentage of migrants at the southern border who enter the United States and are allowed to apply for asylum.” If deterring the flow of asylum seekers is the job, by all accounts it appears that Biden is doing it.

Thankfully, Los Angeles lived up to its reputation of being a city of immigrants and welcomed the bused asylum seekers with open arms. As my colleagues reported, city agencies and nonprofit organizations coordinated in providing aid, turning St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church in Chinatown into a triage center.

“The truth is, I thanked God when we met all the organizations here who greeted us,” Ambar, who was on the bus with her daughter, told my colleagues Brittny Mejia and Jack Herrera in a follow-up story. She asked The Times to identify her by her first name out of privacy concerns.

“I came here to this place waiting to see what I could do, without expecting God to really respond and to put such kind people in our path.”

I was heartened by the Angeleno response. But the cynic in me can’t help in asking: How long will this good will last?

Take the case of New York City, another municipality that takes pride in its immigrant communities. However, earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams began busing migrants upstate, claiming that the city was overwhelmed by the amount of asylum seekers it was taking in from states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona.

“The president and the White House have failed New York City on this issue,” Adams said during an April press conference.

As NPR’s Jasmine Garsd reported Tuesday, those seeking refuge who came through New York City are facing hostility, particularly in non-sanctuary municipalities. Some of that derision is coming from other immigrants.


“I was always scared that if I asked for help, I could get deported. I’m not resentful about that. I came to work, not to ask for help,” Efrain Rojas, a mechanic in Rockland County who came without documentation from Mexico, told Garsd.

“They’re abusing the system.”

There’s no evidence to suggest that the transport of asylum seekers from the borderlands to California at the behest of Republican governors is going to stop soon.

Abbott, not content with losing a billion dollars in trade or using asylum seekers as political pawns to own the libs in California, is threatening to install floating barriers on the Rio Grande. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before he recycles Trump’s idea of adding an alligator moat to the border.

And then there’s Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is hoping that his tough political posturing on immigration will help him get to the White House. DeSantis recently orchestrated separate charter trips that flew asylum seekers from El Paso to Sacramento. He has also enacted one of the toughest anti-immigrant laws in recent history, one that could have an adverse effect on Florida’s economy.

I won’t be surprised if in the coming weeks more buses and charter flights make their way to Los Angeles. If that prediction becomes true, I’m hoping that Los Angeles won’t follow New York City’s lead and won’t turn a blind eye to people who desperately need our help.

Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.


Latinx staffers affected by Times’ layoffs

On June 7, the Los Angeles Times informed its staff that it was eliminating 74 positions, a figure that accounts for about 13% of the newsroom.

In a written statement to the newsroom, Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida said that “the economic climate and the unique challenges of our industry” led to the decision.

“Decisions that result in talented staffers losing their jobs are agonizing,” Merida added. “We will be saying goodbye to some tremendous colleagues.”

As The Times’ Meg James reports, among the departments hit by the layoffs are photography, audio, audience engagement, and the copy and news desks — in November 2021, my colleague Denise Florez outlined in the newsletter what a news desk editor does. She is among those affected by the layoffs.

News of the layoffs were met with condemnation from staffers and several organizations representing journalists of color, who decried that the majority of those being laid off were nonwhite — per a follow-up story by James, “the departures include 34 white people and 39 people of color: 19 Latino people, 11 Asian American people, four Black people and five employees who identify as two or more races.”

Organizations that issued statements include the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists, the National Assn. of Black Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Assn. and the Latino Journalists of California.


— Fidel Martinez

Things we read this week that we think you should read

— The Times and Times en Español’s Selene Rivera spoke with formerly incarcerated women who have faced not only unemployment after being released, but also food insecurity after lacking access to public resources. Nonprofits across the state have formed coalitions to ensure individuals reentering society have access to resources that help them find jobs, housing and food.

— Anita Chabria, a California columnist for The Times, looks at one of the most extensive investigations into California’s homeless population done in decades. The study, conducted by San Francisco’s Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, finds that an overwhelming percentage of homeless people are over the age of 50. Chabria says that many are being “priced out of housing” due to financial instability.

— The Times’ sports staff writer Jorge Castillo covers the contracts reached between the Dodgers and union stadium workers. After months of tense negotiations, two new contracts have been agreed on leading to an increase in wages.

— Teresa Watanabe explores how some community college graduates are making more money than their four-year university peers. Even though they did not attend a big-name school, they studied a lucrative major, which is getting them the big bucks.

— Jenna Ortega has a way of making goth fashion so stylish. Longtime Times contributor Valli Herman wrote about how the star of Tim Burton’s Netflix series “Wednesday” has redefined the clothing genre. She has elevated the style outside of the screen and turned it into something people are falling for.


— We’re all jealous of Rolling Stone’s Julyssa Lopez, who spent time with the one and only Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (aka Bad Bunny aka El Conejo Malo). He has quickly risen to stardom, and after becoming the “first Latino solo act and first Spanish-language artist to headline Coachella in the festival’s 30-year history,” Lopez wrote, he hasn’t slowed down one bit.

— The Chicago Tribune’s Laura Rodríguez Presa details how one single-mother’s co-workers helped fulfill her daughter’s dream of having a quinceañera. It wasn’t just her restaurant co-workers but other cooks, servers and dishwashers who were all in on it.

— Donna Wares, known for creating The Times’ Book Club back in 2019, tells us how author Luis Alberto Urrea uncovered his mom’s World War II past. He includes some of her stories in his best-selling novel “Good Night, Irene.”

— Chelsea Hylton