The Si Se Puede Collective (comprised of Amigos de Guadalupe, Grail Family Services, School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and SOMOS Mayfair) acknowledges the tragic death of Bambi Larson and our hearts go out to her loved ones at this difficult time. At this very difficult and sensitive time for the family and the community, it is incumbent on all of us to wait for the facts to develop. It is important not to rush to judgment.
The Si Se Puede Collective is dedicated to making our community a safe place where all residents, regardless of background, can live free of fear. As such, it is quite troubling that the focus of Larson’s death has been the immigration status of the man said to have perpetrated the crime. By solely focusing on his status, both the victim and the immigrant community at large are hurt.
We know that the current Administration has exploited tragedy to further divide communities, one against another. Singling out part of one person’s identity is dangerous and advances a dangerous agenda. For our Black, Latino, Muslim, and other children of color, this type of exploitation creates such a fear that children cannot learn and families are driven underground, citizen, resident, or not.
Our County’s immigrants – whether documented or undocumented – are an intrinsic part of who we are. Using this tragedy to demonize immigrants is not only morally reprehensible, but also irresponsible, as it stokes fear and hatred towards our immigrant community. The fact is that overall, immigrants enrich our county and make it safer. A 2018 study found that, “increases in the undocumented immigrant population within states are associated with significant decreases in the prevalence of violence” [Cato Institute].
We all need to come together to create real solutions that heal the pain of violence. Policies that keep law enforcement out of deportations are part of the solution. These policies help victims and witnesses come forward without fear of deportation and thereby protect due process and safer communities for everyone. It is why counties like Santa Clara have maintained their policies despite misguided efforts to change them.
All of our local elected and law enforcement officials must continue to understand the importance of these policies and not fall into the federal government trap to exploit tragedy for divisive purposes. This tragedy cannot become a political tool. Our city needs to support immigrant communities such as Mayfair.