In the wake of recent sweeps by immigration officers in San Francisco and on the Peninsula, officials are struggling to assure residents that local police are not cooperating with federal deportation efforts.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will weigh a resolution, sponsored by Supervisors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval and Tom Ammiano, that condemns the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Meanwhile, the newly formed Redwood City Coalition for Immigrant Rights plansto bring a similar resolution to the Redwood City Council and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and perhaps create a “sanctuary” policy similar to San Francisco’s, in which law officers do not check residents’ citizenship status, according to Sheryl Bergman with the International Institute of San Francisco.
The San Francisco vote comes on the heels of a similar resolution sponsored by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd urging Congress to resume immigration reform talks abandoned last year.
“There are thousands of illegal immigrants living in the shadows, and our quality of life issues still affect them,” Elsbernd said. “They are here and by no means should we ignore them.”
Redwood City police officers and San Mateo County Sheriff’s officers already do not check immigration paperwork, but members of the coalition hope to make that message stronger, according to Bergman.
“A resolution would go a long way toward unifying the community and reassuring [residents],” Bergman said. “These are our neighbors, and we need to insist on policies that respect constitutional rights and public safety.”
Between Oct. 1, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, ICE officers arrested 838 people, 500 of whom had already received a deportation order from a judge and 338 of whom were newly entered into deportation proceedings, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Those arrests included a number of San Mateo County residents, while ICE officers swept through a San Francisco meatpacking plant and have been seen checking papers in the Tenderloin, according to Renee Saucedo, attorney and organizer with La Raza Central Legal.
“We recognize the fact that local law enforcement has a very different mission from ICE,” Kice said. “But part of ICE’s mission is enforcing immigration laws, and people who are in the country illegally are subject to arrest.”
Redwood City parents kept children home from school recentlyafter a mother was arrested and unable to pick up her children.
Enrollment levels began returning to normal last week, according to John Baker, assistant superintendent in the Redwood City School District.
Those arrests have sparked outcry from immigrant-rights groups and high-ranking politicians alike. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decried the raids in a statement this month, while Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, told ICE in a letter that its efforts are undermining local police’s efforts to build trust within immigrant communities.
Immigrant-rights groups are planning a series of events this week in San Francisco.