ICE operation accused of detaining three at Sonoma County courthouse

ICE agents in the North Bay are accused of breaking a new state law when they arrested three people on Tuesday on the grounds of the Sonoma County courthouse. 

“I was shocked because the person was coming to take care of court business,” said attorney Martin Wood.

On Tuesday morning, he was waiting for his client who was set to appear before a judge on a domestic violence charge when he was intercepted by ICE agents in the parking lot and detained. 

Wood said he does not know exactly how ICE knew new his client was appearing in court that day but has at least one theory has to how they obtained the information. 

“The only thing that I can think of is that the daily criminal calendars are published and ICE would have access to those.” 

A California state law prohibits immigration arrests at a civil courthouse, but representatives from the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office who witnessed the detainment said they cannot interfere with the duties of a federal officer. 

Sonoma County Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi told KTVU that a member of her staff approached ICE agents to ask them why they were arresting the man coming to court and said she was told that the operation was coordination with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, which Pozzi insists was not true.

“I knew it wasn’t true when it was said because I know our sheriff. He’s going to following the law,” said she told us from her office on Wednesday afternoon.

“Victims are going to be afraid to call the police, they’re going to be afraid to come to court. We’re committed to equal justice for all people regardless of their heritage. “

Outside the courthouse, Wednesday, one man with the organization Movimiento Cultural del la Union Indigenous spent the afternoon on patrol for ICE agents.

Once he figures out that ICE is on patrol in the area, his group warns the public via social media and radio. 

“I’m here because I’m concerned about the safety of my people,” said Gerbacio Pena. “They try to scare our community, they try to divide our community and I don’t like that because we just work or our children go to school. We’re not doing anything criminal, so we try to stick together and we will stick together to protect our families and our communities’ first.”

The ICE operation continued into Wednesday when agents intercepted and detained two people who were being released from the Sonoma County Jail and into a drug treatment program.