Nationwide ICE Raids Lead to 21 Arrests in Santa Clara County

Federal immigration agents arrested 21 people from Santa Clara County this week as part of a national four-day operation targeting so-called “sanctuary cities,” according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Operation Safe City” focused on cities and regions with policies that prevent local police from being deputized to enforce immigration laws. In Santa Clara County, the Sheriff’s Office refuses to detain inmates for ICE and several cities prohibit their police from coordinating with immigration officials. Meanwhile, a bill that would make California the first “sanctuary state” is a signature away from becoming law.

The city of San Jose encourages people to report suspected ICE raids to a volunteer-run hotline, which calls on people to keep an eye on federal agents when they come to local neighborhoods and connects targeted families with immigration attorneys.

The Rapid Response Network in Santa Clara County encourages people to report suspected ICE raids to a volunteer-run hotline, which calls on people to keep an eye on federal agents when they come to local neighborhoods and connects targeted families with immigration attorneys.

The heavy-handed enforcement campaign was similar in scope to those in years past, ICE spokesman James Schwab told San Jose Inside, but it was unprecedented in that the agency has never launched operations in response to city and regional policies.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said in a press release, ignoring the fact that courts have repeatedly ruled it unconstitutional for local police to comply with ICE detainer requests without probable cause. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León denounced the raids as politically motivated, adding in a statement that it “clearly shows why California needs to protect the honest, hard-working residents so critical to our economy from [President Trump’s] deportation machine.”

Nationwide, the op swept up 498 people from 42 countries for suspected immigration violations, ICE officials announced Thursday. As with past raids, immigration authorities framed the action as an effort to protect the public, saying they zeroed in on immigrants with criminal records. However, many of the detainees’ crimes were non-violent and a quarter of them were for driving under the influence. About a third of those arrested had no criminal record at all.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties accounted for 27 detainees. In the South Bay, the arrests were made in Mountain View, San Jose and Morgan Hill. All but a few had prior criminal convictions and four had been previously deported, Schwab said.

ICE declined to identify the local detainees by name, but the agency offered a description of one in its press release that promotes the narrative of immigrant criminality espoused by the Trump administration. ICE claimed that one of the arrestees in San Jose was a Mexican citizen who came to the U.S. on a visa and allegedly overstayed by more than a decade. The man reportedly had prior convictions for drug sales and felony child cruelty, authorities added, and he’d been released from jail before ICE took him into custody.

According to ICE, the agency’s operation relied on help from its National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center and its Pacific Enforcement Response Center, which was founded in 2015 to find undocumented immigrants who end up in local jails. It should be noted, however, that the ICE data centers rely on a fingerprint database that the American Civil Liberties Union calls antiquated and erroneous 30 percent of the time.

Some of the people arrested during the op will face prosecution in federal court for illegal entry and re-entry, according to ICE. Others will be processed administratively for deportation, but will still be held on bail.

Organizers of the local hotline for targets of ICE enforcement have been keeping track of the time, date and location of each raid. (Source: Sacred Heart Community Service)

Organizers of the local hotline for targets of ICE enforcement have been keeping track of the time, date and location of each raid. (Source: Sacred Heart Community Service)

No recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were targeted, Schwab added.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he’s “extremely concerned” that ICE cast too wide a net with its arrests.

“Taking such an indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement is not only a poor use of federal resources, it also stokes fear and erodes trust of local law enforcement in our community,” he said.

Liccardo also assured that San Jose police played no part in the ICE raids. Just as local police officers don’t enforce federal tax, securities or environmental laws, he explained, they don’t participate in any type of immigration enforcement. That’s not their job.

“This longstanding policy keeps us safer by focusing our limited police resources on preventing and responding to serious crimes, and ensuring that no resident will hesitate from calling 9-1-1 or otherwise assisting the police due to fear of deportation,” he said.

Rosa De Leon, a local organizer for the nonprofit Sacred Heart Community Service, said ICE pushes a message about the criminality of immigrants to justify its actions and to sow fear and mistrust in the community. But studies show that immigrants—undocumented or otherwise—are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens, she added. Studies have also shown that sanctuary jurisdictions tend to be safer and enjoy stronger economies than non-sanctuary counterparts.

"The narrative that ICE has created about immigrants is hurting our community, and they often misrepresent information,” said De Leon, who works with families affected by the crackdown. “This narrative prevents us from acknowledging the contributions that immigrant families make to our community—their community"

She pointed out that ICE routinely violates people’s constitutional rights, uses deceptive tactics such as posing as local cops and disseminates propaganda to turn public sentiment against immigrants. She said it’s important to keep in mind that ICE and related enforcement agencies tear families apart, separate parents from children and remove people from their communities.

“When we hear about these deportations, we hear a one-sided story,” De Leon said. “We don’t think about how there’s a person behind these numbers being reported. They don’t want us to think about the people behind these numbers.”

In light of the recent raids, local activists and immigrant advocates are trying to raise more awareness about a hotline for people to report suspected ICE presence, which San Jose Inside reported on this past spring. The number invites anyone to report a suspected immigration raid and which notifies community members to show up and witness an enforcement action as it happens. The rapid-response line also connects the targeted family with immigration attorneys and other services they may need.

De Leon said the South Bay hotline was activated nine times this past Sunday through Wednesday. Hamid Yazdan Panah, an attorney coordinator for the Northern California Rapid Response Network, said such hotlines could prevent deportations.

“It is critical for community members to report ICE activity as soon as it takes place in order for local networks and attorneys to respond effectively,” Panah said. “Time is of the essence in these cases and early reporting can potentially mean the difference between deportation and due process.”

This weekend, local volunteers plan to canvas neighborhoods with fliers about the hotline, which has been promoted by the city of San Jose and is part of a broader nationwide initiative. Sacred Heart will also continue to host monthly trainings for people who want to learn how to help the rapid-response effort. The next workshop in the South Bay takes place on Oct. 8 in San Jose. To sign up for the event, click here.

Sources at the Mexican Consulate in San Jose said Santa Clara County has been averaging about two immigration detentions per week—not including times when ICE ramps up arrests as part of targeted campaigns, such as the one this week.

This article has been updated. 

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

23 Comments

  1. If local Law Enforcement interferes, hook’em and book’em because if it’s San Jose they are probably illegal anyway!!!!!!!!!!!! We are going to get rid of all of you, cut Federal Funds, weed out Social Security Fraud, Disability Fraud, Welfare fraud and Food Stamp fraud. First will come Mexican employees in Government who are falsifying documentation. A new 500 man team is in training to go across the country and show up with document subpoenas to verify County records for all of the above and employees will be indicted. The LAW is returning for all of you freeloaders.

    Jack Slade

  2. I’ll believe the LAW is returning when I see our different levels of Government being held to it… Not holding my breath.

  3. Sounds like a disappointingly slow start. Looking forward to the day they frog walk the mayor, police chief, sharif, city council, and county soups, for harboring fugitives and 10% of the illegal voters in the state.
    GO Trump!

  4. Jack sad seriously? Talk about stir the pot! This is not what local ICE is doing. They are targeting criminal illegal immigrants that are either repeat offendors or have committed new crimes. Your rhetoric is what these activists feed off of. Total BS….. People that are here and are productive need to be documented and be in the system ie taxes, medical etc…. Like everyone else! Sam Liccardo and his fellow turds cant get their noses out of their bases butts to admit that we need ICE to deport felons and other serious criminals. Election season is upon us he needs to win over the east side which Cortese dominated last election. Thank you for that WG bubble people (your crime bubble has finally popped) how does it feel?

    • You miss the point. They are here illegally. It doesn’t matter if they productive or not. LA spent 1.5 billion on welfare for illegals. That money should have been spent on US homeless citizens. Are you for open borders?

      • No definitely not for open borders. I am for secure borders but I am also a realist. You cannot deport everyone. It just wont work.

      • There is no way welfare is offered go illegals first of all you have to show legal documents to receive it.

        • Untrue Angie – I work in government healthcare with a background in Medicare, Medicaid, L&I and State Union Trusts. We had plenty of cases where undocumented immigrants received care paid for by State Medicaid plans (which translates to tax-payer funded welfare). The most mind-blowing case that I personally worked on was the case of an individual who had murdered their spouse, and then attempted to shoot themselves in the head. The suicide attempt failed, and the state’s Medicaid program was asked to pay for (and approved) the subsequent long term treatment and hospitalization for this individual’s traumatic brain injury. This amounted to over a million dollars spent of tax-payer money on the care of an undocumented criminal.

  5. “Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us to access jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” Pretty well says it all. I would like to see politicians, LEO and business people that perpetuate the ‘sanctuary’ outrage arrested and jailed for aiding and abetting criminals.

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    • Huh ? In conclusion as I’ve thoroughly & inexplicitly explained,but however on the other hand I now feel that I must digress. What the hell are you talking about ? Your rambling indecipherable & incomprehensible musings appear to be a comedic mishmash of malaprops & gibberish. You’d have made the late Professor Irwin Corey quite proud & I’m sure that Norm Crosby would be awed by your writing skill. Keep up the good wok,I’m sore you’re the breast !

    • Saif,
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      time! Whatever……….

      • Those of us who partake in the use of cannabis are for the most part far more eloquent. I figured that Saif much like many of the right-wing crusaders who amuse us here with their tedious propaganda was just another snoot full of alcohol.

  7. As much as it makes sense for ICE to pursue its prey in cities that have declared themselves hideouts for illegals, I suggest that rather than treating sanctuary cities as target rich environments, ICE treat them as valuable assets. Here is what I think ICE should do:

    1. Respect sanctuary in cities, such as San Jose and San Francisco, whose elected officials have acted in such ways as to suggest unlimited tolerance and resources.
    2. To avoid condemnation from hostile politicians, set no qualifications (other than illegal status) for sanctuary entitlement. Make public the fact that prior deportees, ex-convicts, and the mentally unstable will be just as eligible for sanctuary as will those who violated our borders only in response to an Obama-like dream or out of their desire to do the jobs Americans won’t do.
    3. Refuse to disrespect the spirit of sanctuary even if intervention is requested by the jurisdiction.
    4. Concentrate enforcement operations in cooperative jurisdictions; pressure those who escape apprehension to seek sanctuary where it is offered.
    5. Take advantage of the apparent unlimited tolerance and resources of the selected cities by turning them into de facto detention facilities. Outfit detainees with ankle monitors and bus them to the city halls, churches, and other places actively involved in providing sanctuary. Utilize patrols to arrest and deport escapees.

    By following this strategy, which should be dubbed, Operation Get Stuffed, I believe ICE will, without firing a shot or stepping on a progressive toe, positively impact public safety in those tens of thousands of jurisdictions that do not offer sanctuary (thus rewarding those good people not at war with American law and culture) while at the same time providing voters in sanctuary cities a chance to experience, and suffer, the destructive and chaotic effects of the malignant, unsustainable policies of their elected leaders.

  8. States & cities are under no legal obligation to enforce or help enforce federal law. Nor are they obligated to arrest & house illegal aliens or hold them for the INS. The enforcement of federal laws is solely the duty of the federal government & prosecuting those accused of breaking federal law is the responsibility of federal prosecutors in federal courtrooms. If convicted they’re either sentenced to federal prison or deported by the federal government. It’s bad enough that the Feds take the federal tax dollars of hardworking Californians & redistribute them to poor Red states like Alabama & Mississippi that receive more in return than they contribute. Meanwhile California gets shortchanged subsidizing the economies of conservative hellholes run by inept politicians elected by ignorant hillbillies who despise us. Protecting America’s borders is the federal governments job,why should Californians spend one cent of state or local revenue on law enforcement resources better spent elsewhere ?

    Whether you like or dislike illegal aliens the facts are clear. They’re arrested & prosecuted for committing crimes at a lower rate than our fellow Americans who were born & raised here. They collectively contribute far more to our economy than they receive. The vast majority of them are hard working people trying to make a better life for their families,a life that wasn’t attainable in their own countries. Many toil long hours in menial jobs for low wages that most Americans have no desire to do themselves. Jobs like those in agriculture & livestock,janitors,landscapers,laborers & fast food are a vital part of our workforce,if these positions were left unfilled our economy would grind to a halt. Besides if working for minimum wage at McDonald’s is such a great “first job” why are they seeking retirees to subsidize their workforce now ? Actually it’s part of McDonald’s “cradle to the grave” plan to pay their employees inadequate wages for ever,reaping profits while our tax dollars pick up the tab for all their employees food stamps,health care & subsidized housing.

    • Walmart employees are collectively the largest recipients of welfare dollars in the United States. It’s ironic that the biggest advocates of lower taxes never mention the Waltons when they piss & moan about the cost of providing welfare benefits. As long as they can keep offering lower prices by undercutting their rivals who pay their employees livable union wages,they go mute (& shop there). It’s an outrage that they can drive their competitors out of business by shifting the responsibility for the health & welfare of their employees to the taxpayers. The Food Stamps,Health Care & Subsidized Housing costs US taxpayers billions of dollars every year & there is no end in sight. It’s no coincidence that the Waltons became one of the worlds richest families by forcing the government to pay for what they refuse to provide themselves. It’s a pity we can’t nationalize Walmart (after all we’ve already paid for it) confiscate their billions & deport them back to wherever their family immigrated from originally. If you really want to do your part to lower the unemployment rate I have a suggestion. Go to Walmart,fill a shopping cart with lots of merchandise (perishables on the bottom) & leave it in the middle of the store.

  9. California is now the first “Sanctuary State” so keep complaining you intolerable naysayers,nobody cares what you marginalized haters think !

  10. According to DHS there are about 16 million illegal immigrants in the USA. 62% are from Mexico. And the big ICE crackdown got a meager 498. Seems to me ICE is doing a lousy job.

    • The number of illegal aliens who are actually being deported since Trump became President has dropped below the number deported during Obama’s tenure. Trump – big hat,no cattle. He talks a good game & he can round them up,but when it comes to sending them home his enthusiasm has created a bottleneck in our judicial system. Building a wall around Trump (& closing his Twitter account) would be a far better use of our taxes,than building a symbolic (yet porous or poor-ass) wall across our nation’s southern border. And speaking of borders,wasting billions building an ineffectual wall to deter a small number of foreigners from entering our country (most of the illegal aliens here now didn’t sneak across the southern border),borders on insanity. Of course in Trump’s case when the going gets insane,the insane become professional. No one needs to question Trump’s sanity,the consensus is that he’s nuts. It’s the one thing that a majority of our elected representatives in Congress (Democrats & Republicans) can agree on,he’s bat s**t crazy !

      The real question should be where we’re going to put all of the South Korean refugees after he decides to wage war on the Korean Peninsula ? Why would North Korea negotiate with us when Trump reneges on the agreement our country negotiated with the Iranians concerning nuclear weapons. Or the Paris Climate Accords ? Or TPP ? If The Trump Administration reverses course on binding agreements negotiated by previous administrations we can’t be trusted !

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