SAN FRANCISCO - At least 11 people were detained in ICE raids over the weekend in Northern California, hours after a warning from the Oakland mayor that a major “operation” would be taking place, according to immigrant rights groups.
As of Monday morning, there were five arrests in Merced County; two arrests from Contra Costa County's Pinole and El Sobrante; two arrests from Sacramento county; and one arrest each in Monterey and Napa counties.
The numbers were compiled by the California Immigrant Policy Center, comprised of the Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership, the Immigrant Liberation Movement, the Monterey County Rapid Response Network and the Sacramento Immigration Coalition - Migra Observers. And observers expected the numbers to grow. Hamid Yazdan Panah, an attorney with the Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network, noted that a few weeks ago in Los Angles, similar ICE detentions started with a few arrests on a Sunday, but had increased to more than 200 by mid-week.
It's not exactly clear if these detentions were directly related to the ICE operation that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned of on Saturday night. But the Bay Area is on heightened alert following her sudden announcement. Some witnesses and relatives had their cell phone cameras ready to document what was going on.
Elizabeth Ponce sent in video of one man being detained Saturday morning in Napa. The family of the man says he is 39 years old and a father of three. He was brought to the United States when he was four years old and has live here ever since, his family said.
Panah said that he heard from a detained man that ICE agents were congregating at food trucks in Napa and "reportedly joked about who would be arrested next." Panah also claimed that the immigrants were taken to a detention facility in San Francisco and told they couldn't see their lawyers, which he said wasn't the case in Fresno. "Normally, attorneys do have access, so this seems like a departure," he said, noting that it was odd for these arrests to come on a Sunday.
ICE spokesman James Schwab did not answer specific allegations or questions regarding the detentions over the weekend. He emailed a three-paragraph statement, which read: "Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conduct targeted enforcement operations on a daily basis in Northern California and across the nation.
ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. However, ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.
While the vast majority of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, others force ICE to assign additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the community, putting officers, the general public and the aliens at greater risk and increasing the incidence of collateral arrests. Sanctuary cities and states are not immune from federal law."
Schaaf, who had been receiving threats, mostly from out-of-state conservaties, ultimately decided to notify the public about the ICE activity on Saturday night after getting tips from "multiple" credible sources. She did not have any more specifics on the timing or the specificity of the pending action.
Schaaf held a news conference on Sunday in the Latino neighborhood of Fruitvale, explaining why she issued the warning, which came under heavy criticism from those on the right calling her a scofflaw and law-breaker.
“I did seek legal counsel about what my obligations are in this situation, and while I’m very committed to being a law-abiding citizen I feel confident that my sharing this information — because I did not receive it through official channels — is legal; and frankly, it is my ethical obligation,” Schaaf said. “We want to acknowledge that spreading rumors of ICE activity has been used as a tactic to strike fear and paralysis in the immigrant communities. This is something I thought about very carefully before bringing this information forward. But due to the reliability of my sources and the fact I received this from multiple sources I felt that it was my duty to share the information.”
She said that she was told that this operation would be "civil" in nature, meaning that federal agents would be seeking deportation and not trying to arrest people for other crimes, such as drugs or human trafficking.
Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo say they will both continue to protect immigrant communities, despite a federal crackdown on undocumented residents. "We're going to do everything we can to stand up for our residents were going to do everything we can to support
residents whether their undocumented or not," Liccardo said. "I'm not interested in political battles or ideological battles with Washington I'm interested in protecting my community."
Neither mayor urged anyone to break the law, but they wanted their residents to be aware of their rights, such as not having to allow federal agents inside without a search warrant.
Meanwhile, immigrant rights advocates on Monday were protesting outside ICE's headquarters in San Francisco, urging the government to release Fernando Carrillo, 33, a San Jose father of three and Mexican national, who was picked up in October as he dropped off his daughter at daycare. He had a past DUI and an ID fraud conviction, ICE agents said. His hearing was the final one before a judge will determine whether he gets to stay in the United States or be deported to Mexico. The judge said he would issue a decision within three weeks.
Carillo's wife, Lourdes Barraza, who is a U.S. citizen, told KTVU that just because something is the law doesn't make it right or just. "Certain laws are inhumane," she said. "Slavery was once the law."