Weakening Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policy will not make our community safer.
In fact, doing so will actively decrease safety for all of us. Notifying ICE of prisoner’s release dates based on their suspected immigration status brings up serious questions about violations of due process, double punishment and civil rights violations.
If the county Board of Supervisors truly wants our community to be safer, it should focus on increasing mental health, addiction and rehabilitation services for all.
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, the lone board member to vote to protect sanctuary on April 9, explained in her statement that our sanctuary policy is working. It is disheartening to see elected officials like San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo caving to pressure to change that policy, echoing racist Trump Administration policies that encourage scapegoating and disappearing people labeled as “undesirable.”
Under the notification rule the board is currently exploring, an undocumented person and a U.S. citizen could commit the exact same crime, and the citizen would serve time and get another chance to live life, while the undocumented person is handed over to ICE—perhaps never to be seen again in the community and by their family.
This is what some people want: for people they see as problematic to simply disappear.
I do not feel safer knowing that my local government and law enforcement wants to aid a government agency that cages children, locks people in hot vans for hours while denying their right to a lawyer, and, as Supervisor Dave Cortese pointed out last month, holds people based on their ethnicity with no due process.
Our current policy prevents local law enforcement from aiding ICE except when they have a judicial warrant. To walk back this progressive, human-centered policy that Santa Clara County fought to establish—even if by just a little—would endanger the people this policy is supposed to protect.
It will also break down the hard-won trust between immigrant communities, local government and law enforcement, once again forcing undocumented and documented people alike into the shadows of the Santa Clara County community.
Parents will be afraid of driving their kids to school, active community members will re-think engaging in community activities and events, and children will have to wonder whether the police officer pulling over their parent for a minor traffic violation will be the link to ICE that tears their family apart.
That’s why San Jose City Council members like Magdalena Carrasco and every area immigrant rights group have spoken out in support of preserving the policy as-is.
Everyone in the community is safer when everyone, including members of immigrant and refugee communities, feels safe communicating with local law enforcement. It is vital that the most vulnerable members in our community can call 911, whether it’s to report a crime, request an ambulance, or come forward to testify as a witness to a crime.
When members of the immigrant and refugee community know that there is an open channel of communication between local law enforcement and ICE, no matter how small or specific, they won’t trust law enforcement.
ICE has shown again and again that it is not an agency that is transparent, safe or fair. It has shown that it is willing and able to perpetrate atrocities akin to what many individuals go to prison for.
The people of Santa Clara County said “no” at the April 9 meeting, and the Board of Supervisors should take heed and keep the sanctuary policy exactly as it is.
Becca Hoskins is a Santa Clara resident and member of SURJ Sacred Heart who trains volunteers for the Rapid Response Network. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].