Immigrants' rights activists: ICE activity denied due process

- By Bay City News Service

Santa Clara County immigrant rights advocates and community leaders held a rally Friday evening after receiving over 150 calls to the county's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity hotline in just 72 hours, according to the entities that support the network.

The county's Rapid Response Network denounced the federal government's attempt at intimidation through ICE and remind community members to know their rights.

The event took place at 5 p.m. at the intersection of King and Story Roads, where the "community seeks to build strength and partnership as ICE calls to divide neighborhoods."

"I live in fear that my parents will be taken away from myself. It's not okay," says Jennifer Garcia, a college student. The 19-year-old says she was born in the United States, but her parents are undocumented and came to this country from Mexico as teenagers.

"It's intense. People are terrified to be quite honest with you. They are petrified. Most often, they're calling to verify for other community members. Telling them: don't go to this street," says Ramirez. 

One restaurant worker says he was detained by ICE in November as he was getting into his car to drive his children to school. He says ICE released him a month later. He braved the winter storm and came to the rally to support other immigrants. 

"I came over here to work. I'm no criminal. I have two jobs. I work for my kids. I work for my family," says Kenex Guardado who says he now has an immigration attorney. 

Response network affiliates said that the hotline has had an increase of calls reporting ICE activity, specifically in San Jose. Reported operations have resulted in at least eight confirmed detentions in Santa Clara County this week.

ICE released a statement reporting they had arrested 232 individuals in Northern California, 115 being people with prior felony convictions for "serious or violent offenses" during a four-day operation 
that ended on Wednesday.

They also addressed recent legislation that has allowed cities and counties to declare themselves as sanctuaries, saying that such policies have "nearly eliminated all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state."

"ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and 
prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community," ICE spokespeople said in the memo.

It's been suggested that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf violated federal law this week when she notified the public in advance of the four-day sweep that targeted roughly 1,100 people, but she said she was just doing her job and did not regret her action.

Advocates are concerned that some of the people arrested during that operation may have been denied due process, they said in a statement.

"It is imperative that due process is fully upheld to guard against abuses of federal power," they said in the statement. "We must always question the claims ICE makes about its operations, which all too often have been proven to be embarrassingly false."

Rapid Response Network hotlines are operating all over Northern California and each one is staffed with a team of legal observers and immigration attorneys who investigate the reports of raids and arrests, the immigrant rights advocates said. They encourage witnesses to call the hotline 
for the county at (408) 290-1144.

More information from Bay Area Rapid response networks

We have documented the following incidents and are continuing to investigate:

  • On Wednesday February 28, 2018 ICE refused to provide attorneys who visited 630 Sansome Street with information about specific people it had detained or general updates about the ongoing deportation actions.
  • ICE transferred people to detention facilities outside Northern California, posing significant barriers to access by both attorneys and family members.
  • ICE arrested and then rapidly deported several people, in some cases within hours, leaving inadequate time for response by families or attorneys. One man was arrested on Wednesday morning February 28th in Napa, and was on his way out of the country by 5 pm that afternoon.
  • ICE pressured detainees into waiving their rights and signing deportation documents without allowing them to consult with pro bono attorneys who were available. A man arrested in Merced county was told he would not be able to talk to his family unless he agreed to sign a voluntary departure notice.
  • ICE used its Northern California headquarters at 630 Sansome Street as a processing center on Sunday, February 25th despite that it was not open to the public and attorneys were denied requests to access detainees.
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