Amid panic over a potential immigration crackdown, Santa Clara County officials are launching a media campaign to highlight the contributions of foreign-born residents.
The Board of Supervisors planned a press conference this morning to talk about the services available for immigrants in the community—regardless of their legal status.
Officials organized the presser days after the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) planned to arrest as many as 1,500 people in a Bay Area sweep. The threats come a week after the feds descended on a Santa Clara 7-Eleven as part of a nationwide sting on the mini-mart franchise.
State officials warned companies that it’s against California law to volunteer information about undocumented workers to ICE, and that immigration officials need a judicial warrant to review employer records and set foot on private parts of a worksite.
San Jose police and other local agencies contacted by San Jose Inside said they were unaware of a planned dragnet. “We have not heard anything about any major ICE operations in San Jose,” SJPD spokeswoman Officer Gina Tepoorten said in an email earlier this week.
But community groups have been bracing for ramped-up immigration arrests by referring people to the Rapid Response Network, a volunteer-run hotline that sends observers to the site of suspected ICE raids. The hotline also connects impacted families with legal services and other help.
Tamara Alvarado, head of Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose’s East Side, said she heard reports of an arrest at Story and King roads this week. She took to Facebook to warn people in the neighborhood and urge them to call their lawmakers for more details and call the hotline if they spotted another raid.
Leading up to the county’s press conference this morning, officials released the following data about immigrants in the South Bay.
- Santa Clara County is one of the most diverse places in the world, with approximately 700,000 of county residents (39 percent of the county’s population) born outside of the United States, and more than 80 major languages spoken in the county.
- The top 10 languages spoken in Santa Clara County are: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Tagalog, Hindi, Mandarin, Korean, Telugu and Tamil, respectively.
- Latinos account for more than a quarter of the residents in Santa Clara County; 25 percent of the county’s immigrants speak Spanish.
- Foreign-born Latinos have some health advantages over US-born Latinos, but are also less likely to have health insurance.
- The majority of immigrants in Santa Clara County come from Mexico, followed by India, Vietnam, China, The Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Iran, Japan and Russia.
- In 2014, immigrants in Santa Clara County contributed an estimated $77 billion to the county’s economy through consumption and taxes.
- According to estimates, the immigrant population of Santa Clara County contributed almost $3 billion in state and local taxes in 2014; this includes property, income, sales, and excise taxes levied by either the State of California or by municipal governments. Immigrant households also contributed $7 billion in federal taxes, $5 billion to Social Security and $1 billion to Medicare.