[News] Feds planning massive Northern California immigration sweep to strike against sanctuary laws
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 17 11:25:51 EST 2018
Feds planning massive Northern California immigration sweep to strike
against sanctuary laws
Hamed Aleaziz | on January 17, 2018
U.S. immigration officials have begun preparing for a major sweep in San
Francisco and other Northern California cities in which federal officers
would look to arrest more than 1,500 undocumented people while sending a
message that immigration policy will be enforced in the sanctuary state,
according to a source familiar with the operation.
Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, declined
to comment Tuesday on plans for the operation.
The campaign, centered in the Bay Area, could happen within weeks, and
is expected to become the biggest enforcement action of its kind under
President Trump, said the source, who requested anonymity because the
plans have not been made public.
Trump has expressed frustration that sanctuary laws — which seek to
protect immigrants and persuade them not to live in the shadows by
restricting cooperation between local and federal authorities — get in
the way of his goal of tightening immigration.
The operation would go after people who have been identified as targets
for deportation, including those who have been served with final
deportation orders and those with criminal histories, the source said.
The number could tick up if officers come across other undocumented
immigrants in the course of their actions and make what are known as
The sweep would represent the first large-scale effort to target the
region since Gov. Jerry Brown in October signed legislation enacting a
statewide sanctuary law. Supporters say the law allows undocumented
immigrants to cooperate with local police and seek education, health
care and other public services without worrying they will expose
themselves to possible deportation.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan slammed Brown for signing SB54, which
he said undermined public safety, and signaled he was prepared to take
He said at the time that the federal government would not allow
California to be “a sanctuary state for illegal aliens,” and would have
no choice but to “conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at
worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral
arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where
transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community.”
Early this month, Homan told Fox News that “California better hold on
tight.” He said that if local politicians “don’t want to protect their
communities, then ICE will.”
Told of the planned sweep, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed
outrage Tuesday, saying immigrants “must not be targeted in raids solely
because they are Californians.” She said a large-scale operation would
show that “the administration is carrying out its enforcement actions to
make a political point and not based on the security of the country.”
The source who spoke to The Chronicle said the plan calls for
immigration officers to be flown in from other parts of the country to
help carry out the operation. The sweep could span more than one day and
will include enforcement of work sites suspected of illegally employing
undocumented immigrants, the source said.
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An ICE spokesman in San Francisco, James Schwab, said in an email
Tuesday that the agency “doesn’t comment on future or current operations.”
Liberal-leaning lawmakers in the Bay Area and across California have
sparred for years with federal officials over the role local agencies
play in immigration enforcement.
The tension intensified after the July 2015 killing of Kate Steinle on a
San Francisco Bay pier, when it was revealed that the undocumented
immigrant shooter, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, had been released from San
Francisco Jail under the city’s sanctuary ordinance, even though
immigration officers had asked that he be turned over for a sixth
After Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder charges in November, Homan
blamed San Francisco for Steinle’s death, saying the shooting “could
have been prevented if San Francisco had simply turned the alien over to
ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets.”
The statewide legislation signed by Brown limits the circumstances under
which jails turn over undocumented inmates to the federal government. It
also forbids police officers from arresting people on civil immigration
warrants and from joining federal agents in task forces intended to
enforce immigration laws.
Under the Trump administration, ICE has repeatedly warned that if the
agency can’t detain people from local jails, it will be forced to arrest
them in the communities that hold such policies.
Last week, a group of politicians, including Reps. Barbara Lee,
D-Oakland, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, sent a letter to Department of
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen requesting a meeting with
her and Homan to clarify the remarks he made on Fox News about stepping
up enforcement in California.
“The statements are a direct threat to Californians,” the letter read.
“These statements are reprehensible and the department’s change in
policy will instill fear in our communities. ... Acting Director Homan’s
attack on sanctuary cities is not only an infringement of state rights
but a direct assault on communities of color.”
In recent years, ICE has not made a practice of conducting major
immigration sweeps in cities like San Francisco and Oakland. In
September, 27 people were arrested in Santa Clara County as part of an
operation targeting sanctuary cities across the country that led to 500
arrests. In June, federal officers arrested 54 people in Central California.
Pratheepan Gulasekaram, a professor at Santa Clara University School of
Law and an immigration expert, said that a major sweep in Northern
California would echo tactics seen under the George W. Bush administration.
“This is a bluff since California continues to resist,” he said. “This
is more show than anything else. They want to make it seem like they are
carrying through on this threat. ... I highly doubt that ICE, in the way
that it is currently funded, has the ability and resources to maintain
something like this on a sustained basis.”
Gulasekaram said the raid would “tear up a lot of lives” but have
“little meaningful outcome on public safety.”
/Hamed Aleaziz is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:
haleaziz at sfchronicle.com <mailto:haleaziz at sfchronicle.com> Twitter:
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