OAKLAND, Calif. - Organizers called it a “play-date protest.”
About 100 parents and their children walked from an Oakland public library on Tuesday morning to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to protest the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Stop working with ICE,” they chanted, hoping Sheriff Greg Ahern would hear, urging him to change his policies on cooperating with ICE.
Under California state law all counties have some restrictions on how much they can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. But the exceptions to those rules vary from county to county.
In Alameda County, deputies at the Santa Rita Jail -- can and do -- notify ICE when an undocumented inmate is about to be released from their custody anytime ICE requests that information, for any reason.
In other counties, like San Francisco, the notification policy is more strict. Deputies there can only notify ICE if the person being released has been convicted of a violent or serious felony in the past.
The group staging the protest said they want the Alameda County Sheriff to adopt a policy of never sharing release information with ICE.
“He he has a choice to make not to criminalize our immigrant population and he can do so,” said Stacy Suh of the California Immigration Policy Center. “By not notifying ICE about peoples' release dates and personal information.”
In response, Sgt. Ray Kelly said the only information that’s available to them is public information “that’s available to anybody.”
In addition, activists at this demonstration also responded with cheers and applause to a report in the Bay Area News Group that says Contra Costa County will no longer have a contract with federal authorities to house undocumented immigrants awaiting their deportation hearings at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.
Lourdes Barraza's husband, Fernando Carrillo, was held at that detention facility for six months before finally winning his asylum case and being released to his family in San Jose.
“It’s really bittersweet, the fact that it’s now ending,” Barraza said. “And it’s all up in the air.”