In Los Angeles, Underground Network Is Readying Homes to Hide Undocumented Immigrants
A hammer pounds away in the living room of a middle class home. A sanding machine smoothes the grain of the wood floor in the dining room.
“It would be three families we host here,” Valiente says.
By “host,” she means provide refuge to people who may be sought by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The families staying here would be undocumented immigrants, fearing an ICE raid and possible deportation.
The purchase of this home is part of a network formed by Los Angeles religious leaders across faiths in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. The intent is to shelter hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented people in safe houses across Southern California.
The goal is to offer another sanctuary beyond religious buildings or schools, ones that require federal authorities to obtain warrants before entering the homes.
“That’s what we need to do as a community to keep families together,” Valiente says.
At another Los Angeles neighborhood miles away, a Jewish man shows off a sparsely decorated spare bedroom in his home. White sheets on the bed and the clean, adjacent full bathroom bear all the markers of an impending visit. The man, who asked not to be identified, pictures an undocumented woman and her children who may find refuge in his home someday.
The man says he’s never been in trouble before and has difficulty picturing that moment. But he’s well educated and understands the Fourth Amendment, which gives people the right to be secure in their homes, against unreasonable searches and seizures. He’s pictured the moment if ICE were to knock on his door.
“I definitely won’t let them in. That’s our legal right,” he says. “If they have a warrant, then they can come in. I can imagine that could be scary, but I feel the consequences of being passive in this moment is a little scary.”