Immigrant rights advocates protest ICE transfers in San Mateo County

Immigrant rights advocates held a rally in Redwood City, claiming families are being torn apart by policies in San Mateo County.

Protesters gathered before Wednesday night's special meeting of the board of supervisors, and demanded that the Sheriff's Office stop transferring immigrants over to federal ICE agents.

Cesar Preza, who was detained by ICE and has lived in the Bay Area since he was 8, says he was held in custody for months in Southern California, waiting for a bond hearing.

He described what happened: "It's in the middle of the desert, 23 hours lockdown, you go from one cage to another to get a little bit of sunlight. You have to use the phone through the foot slot in your cell. 

The San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights wants the county to join other Bay Area counties in creating a policy to stop cooperating with ICE unless agents show a warrant that was signed by a judge.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office released 15 immigrants to ICE in 2020, accounting for 62% of all Bay Area transfers and more than any other individual county. At least eight counties in California have ended the practice altogether, including Marin, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Napa, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties, which made no transfers in 2020, according to the Redwood City Pulse.

SB54, or the California Values Act, allows police to tell ICE that an immigrant has served his or her time if the person has a felony conviction that is considered serious or violent. 

Sheriff Carlos Bolanos said that all of his county transfers met those conditions, the Pulse reported.