San Jose Council to Discuss Safe Houses to Prevent Deportations under President Donald Trump

In an unprecedented step to protect immigrant communities, San Jose’s City Council will consider assisting churches to create safe houses to protect people from being deported.

In a memo co-authored Friday by Mayor Sam Liccardo and council members Raul Peralez, Sergio Jimenez, Magdalena Carrasco and Sylvia Arenas, the missive lays out discussion points to provide legal assistance to immigrant communities, broaden emergency communication networks and create partnerships with faith-based organizations. A rubric attached to the memo mentions the need to identify sanctuaries to “shelter undocumented from deportation at local institutions,” which would most likely require revisions to city building codes and permits due to capacity restrictions.

Such actions are usually taken due to inclement weather—not an incoming commander in chief. But less than two weeks before Donald Trump is sworn in as the next president of the United States, anxiety in immigrant communities is higher than it’s been in decades, and the council intends to confront these issues with its first meeting of the calendar year.

“Thousands of San Jose residents face the threat of family separation as a result of potential changes in immigration enforcement by the new Administration,” the council memo states. “Law-abiding immigrants who play a crucial role in our workforce and community, thus, may arbitrarily be subject to deportation. We appreciate the thoughtful work of many local community leaders and stakeholders who have begun to outline critical responses to that threat … and can provide a starting point for strategic planning.”

Last month, Mayor Liccardo and San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia held a press conference reiterating the city’s position that it will not use any resources to assist federal immigration enforcement. Rather, the city intends to expand services provided by the Office of Immigrant Affairs.

President-elect Trump has repeatedly called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants, including the removal of all undocumented children from the country. He also has endorsed deportation forces that go door to door to take people into custody, stoking fears of a fascist-like police squad.

In their memo Friday, city officials suggested that a coordinated response could be created through one-time funding via the mid-year budget process, which occurs in February.

“Our immediate priority is to strengthen and support the existing social infrastructure for supporting our immigrant communities,” the memo reads. “We can achieve great success by broadly disseminating critical information through a coordinated communications campaign, building capacity and streamlining legal defense for families and youth and supporting our faith based organizations. Empowering people with information can enable them to better understand their rights, calm their anxieties, and avoid counterproductive, and often dangerous, behavior prompted by uncertainty.”

One strategy could include working with local school districts to “help families develop safety plans and streamline the dissemination of critical information including: ‘Know Your Rights’ classes, potential remedies available to families and unaccompanied youth such as U-visa, VAWA, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) or asylum.”

City officials will also discuss methods to raise awareness of notario fraud in immigrant communities.

Also on the San Jose City Council agenda for January 10, 2017:

  • The council will consider rezoning and a conditional use permit for the Villas on the Park project, which intends to provide housing to homeless people in a converted hotel at 278 N. 2nd St.
  • One item that does not appear on this week’s council agenda is the appointment of the next vice mayor, which by city code is required to take place at the second meeting of the year. While there has been no official determination, betting lines—yes, the dorkiest of betting lines—have Magdalena Carrasco getting the nod, as she would be a natural swing vote to help Mayor Liccardo secure a 6-5 majority on contentious issues.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Will these pathetic crybaby snowflake tantrums never end?

    Meanwhile… our streets are still full of pot holes, we still don’t have enough cops, etc.

    Keep grandstanding, City Council. The internet never forgets…

  2. “Notario Fraud” Josh? This whole artical is fraudulent journalism. How brave of our politicians to want to harbor
    “Law abiding immigrants” in local churches, The British will never think to look for our guns and powder in the basements of churches, how clever of us! Our leaders will never be accountable that way.
    If the had some back bone they could hide a couple thousand in the city hall parking garage.
    I won’t tell.

    Never mind the fact that they are not looking for law abiding immigrants Josh, go ahead and yell fire in a crowded theater and watch the mob trample each other trying to get out the door you can then blame it on Trump.

    “Arbitrary deportation” really Josh the only thing I can ever remember the government doing that was arbitrary was the draft, I remember that I was arbitrarily drafted and sent overseas, four years later I was given an honorable discharge
    and was returned to the United States. At that time I felt I had earned my citizenship but I still had to put up with a bunch of snowflake, potheads and hippies spitting on me going through the San Francisco Airport.

    If you want to hide illegal aliens in your basement I’m fine with that, and if you go to jail for it I’ll have enough respect for you when you get out to not spit on you as you leave the building.

  3. Most of us on the side of immigration control are reasonable people. We know it’s unrealistic to expect to deport significant numbers of illegals. For that reason we’ve always advocated for starting now getting serious about ensuring that people coming into the U.S. are doing so legally and in that way we will gradually get this situation under control. Had we begun this process a decade or two ago, as we’ve been arguing for, then all this needless anxiety, uncertainty, and divisiveness would not even be happening now. For “immigration rights” activists to whine about what helpless victims they are is laughable. More than anyone it’s them that have contributed the most to creating this sad state of affairs. And our City Council are among the most egregious hypocrites of all.

  4. From the article:

    “Thousands of San Jose residents face the threat of family separation…”

    The solution to that is easy-peasy:

    No one wants to see families separated. So, send the family back intact.

    Problem solved.

  5. The US has more immigrants than all other countries combined. Note: I have nothing against anybody – immigrants inc. But our liberal politicians that condone illegal entry into this country are liars and cowards who sell out their country for their personal gain – – “Hey, remember I let you cut in line so vote for me.” People want to come here because our system of laws and rules works: – Call it our Operating System. When malware in the form of illegal entry and residency are allowed – our Operating System becomes corrupted – witness our democrat/liberal politicians. Yes it is a shame that families may be broken up- But they are broken up when some people come to the US illegally and leave family behind. Who creates this problem? the term “comprehensive immigration reform” is fraud. We did that back in the 1980’s when RR signed a bill legalizing 3 million people with the promise that the border would be sealed. It was a con game by liberals/democrats then and they are trying to sell it again – it is fraud. Sealing the border with a wall or other means will be good for Mexico which today is controlled by the cartels and their gangs – who smuggle drugs/human traffic – and corrupt the Mexican govt – eliminate that problem and Mexico will thrive.

  6. Please increase the police present. Hope this new idea doesn’t cost any money. But I’m sure it does. This is just pathetic. WE NEED MORE POLICE.

  7. I emigrated to the U.S. legally. I had to wait a couple of years for my Green Card. I played by the rules. Protecting those who break the rules is not fair to all of us waited their turn.

  8. Finally, some TRANSPARENCY!!!

    “And in another striking move, Mr. Trump ordered Homeland Security officials to begin releasing more information on illegal immigrants. He said the Privacy Act, which has regularly shielded information about illegal immigrants from public disclosure, will no longer apply to anyone who isn’t a citizen or green card holder.

    That could give the public a new depth of transparency, enabling them to see the types of illegal immigrants the government is encountering.”

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