LOS ANGELES – Facing complicated immigration climate, Latinos and Muslims in Los Angeles, Southern California, are forging a new unity as they seek to learn more about their rights in Trump’s America.
“In every mosque around here, there are Hispanics,” Imam César Dominguez, the imam of the Masjid Omar ibn Al-Khattab mosque in downtown Los Angeles, told KUNC on Thursday, March 16.
“I think it’s a really great moment to forge alliances and to work together,” he added in Spanish.
Masjid Omar mosque is one of the locations immigrants in Los Angeles are relying on to navigate the complicated new immigration climate.
On a Sunday morning, around 40 worshipers gather at the mosque.
Between Qur’anic lessons and an Arabic class, this group gets advice in Spanish on how to respond if immigration officers knock on their door.
The group goes by the name La Asociación Latino Musulmana de América and supports a growing number of Hispanic converts to Islam in Southern California.
This gathering is in fact a result of President Trump’s immigration policies, which have inspired a Latino-Muslim collaboration in Southern California.
Community organizer Shakheel Sayed recently brought together six local groups that specialize in everything from Muslim rights to Latino labor issues. Sayed says the two communities are being singled out unfairly.
“People being demonized and dehumanized, which leaves near permanent scars on their mental state,” he said.
In such a political climate, Fernandez, a Latina Muslim with expired via, and her husband Abdullah, are trying to make their case to whoever will listen, including customers.
“What do you feel now when you hear about news about the Muslim people?” Abdallah asked customer John Harold after fixing his car.
“It’s not a ban — it’s um — what he’s trying to stop is a lot of people coming from Mexico,” Harold says.
The conversation ends on a friendly note, but Abdallah is clearly frustrated with the results.
“The one help him? Muslim people,” Abdallah says. “And the mechanic, the one help him to put the engine? Latino people. The two people, the one he doesn’t like to keep here? The two people who help him.”
Abdullah is currently seeking to sell his business, a salvage yard on the outskirts of Los Angeles, in case they were deported.