Immigrant relations office launches campaign to promote resources in Santa Clara Co.

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By Bay City News Service 

The County of Santa Clara's Office of Immigrant Relations launched a coordinated media campaign this morning to emphasize the county's support and resources for immigrants living in the county.

County officials gathered with the consuls general from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua in front of a Valley Transportation Authority bus with one of the campaign ads to make remarks on how and why the campaign was created.

The campaign, advertised with posters that read, "One county, one future," is designed to focus on "the value of differences in the community," County Executive Jeffrey Smith said.

The campaign will primarily highlight public health and social services, though the county offers many more resources available to the immigrant community, according to Smith.

This campaign comes in the wake of recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in four Bay Area counties on Jan. 10, when 21 people were arrested and ordered to appear in immigration court. The event was a follow-up operation that stemmed from a 2013 investigation, according to a statement from ICE.

County Office of Immigrant Relations Director Maria Love also said that the county works to make sure that immigrants arrested by ICE have access to legal defense, including through a $3.5 million investment in community organizations that offer free legal services.

The Rapid Response Network of Santa Clara County and the County Office of Immigration Relations have been working together, Love said. The RRN has a 24/7 hotline with attorneys standing by in the event that someone wants to report a raid happening or has had a family member picked up by ICE during a raid. 

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office had two representatives present in solidarity. Smith said that they are "liberal" and honor the sanctuary county rules, meaning that they do not report undocumented immigrants to ICE and keep their information confidential. They will not be 
following federal threats or ICE threats in the effort to deport undocumented residents, Smith said.

Smith described Love, an immigrant from El Salvador, as "the mastermind of the campaign." Love said that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors tasked her department with creating the campaign. According to Smith, about 100 county employees worked on it.

Love said that her department talked to immigrants that live in Santa Clara County to determine what messages were most important.

Love said that the campaign's objective is for the community to know that no matter what happens at the federal level, the county will support both documented and undocumented immigrants by giving them the resources that they need.

"Our immigrants are good people, the vast majority of them work hard, are documented and contribute significantly to our community," Smith said. "The people who are not documented are only undocumented because we have a very abhorrent and very ineffective immigration policy nationwide."

Deputy county executive David Campos highlighted that several employees who worked on the campaign are "Dreamers themselves," individuals who entered the country as minors and were largely raised in the U.S.

Santa Clara County Chief Operating Officer Miguel Marquez echoed Smith's statement, telling his own sibling's stories of success as "one of the true stories of immigrants."

Marquez spoke of the two nationwide injunctions against President Trump's executive orders, one that protects sanctuary jurisdictions nationwide and one that allows "Dreamers" to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status that allowed them to reside in the United States.

According to Marquez, county officials are doing all they can for each resident of the county, but especially for those foreign-born residents that make up more than 70 percent of the Silicon Valley workforce.

All of the consul generals spoke in accord with county officials and the significance of the campaign in helping the immigrant community. 

"We are all people, no matter our color, no matter our race and no matter our immigration status," said Consul General of El Salvador Ana Valuenzuela.

Consul General of Guatemala Patricia Lavagnino called the campaign "brave."

"This is a campaign to say, 'You are not you, and we are not we. We are all. Immigrants are all,'" Lavagnino said. 

The campaign has a budget of about $40,000, and can be expanded as needed, according to Smith.

"Our major issue is trying to get the message out to our clients," Smith said. "We are here to provide services for people who are typically underserved." 

The campaign ads will be posted at buses and bus stops with the reasoning that the targeted community needs those transportation services to get to the community resources the county can provide.

They will also be in government buildings and advertised in a mail campaign, Smith said.