San Jose Police Chief: ICE Makes No Promises on Possible Raids

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia has acknowledged he can’t stop federal immigration agents from arresting undocumented immigrants in his city, so he did the next best thing: He got them on the record.

Last month, the top cop for the 10th largest city in the nation called up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and set up a meeting between himself and David Jennings, ICE’s San Francisco field office director, and Shannon McCall, ICE’s assistant field office director for Morgan Hill. SJPD Deputy Chief Anthony Mata also attended the meeting.

The goal of the Feb. 22 sit-down, Garcia said, was to reassure residents that San Jose police will have no role in immigration sweeps and detentions, as well as get a sense of what operations ICE could be planning in the South Bay.

“In light of everything that has happened in Santa Cruz, basically my main reason was to advocate for our community, to pass on the fears that our community is feeling and find out what their mission and their scope is,” Garcia said, adding that ICE told him there are no plans for raids in San Jose.

The chief’s reference to Santa Cruz comes after police for the coastal city accused federal immigration officers of conning them into assisting a gang sweep that netted additional undocumented immigrants. ICE officials dispute these accusations.

The incident joins a growing number of reports in which ICE has been blamed for hurting a community’s trust in law enforcement.

Last week in Los Angeles, ICE staked out a grade school and detained an undocumented man who had just dropped off his daughter. A couple weeks prior, ICE agents in El Paso, Texas, arrested an undocumented woman who had just applied for a protective order for domestic violence.

Garcia said ICE agents told him that they are “not interested in enforcement of victims or witnesses of crimes, as a result of reporting an incident,” which would deviate from the aforementioned reports.

“It seems highly discretionary,” Garcia admitted, adding that “there are no assurances.”

The police chief and Mayor Sam Liccardo have held press conferences and public forums to reassure San Jose’s immigrant communities that the city will not assist ICE operations. City officials are concerned that many people will stop reporting crimes due to fears of family and friends being deported.

James Schwab, a spokesman for ICE’s San Francisco office, declined to say whether or not San Jose will be targeted.

“We wouldn't really speak about our future operations publicly, because of security and safety concerns,” he said. The spokesman noted that ICE’s priority is to remove violent criminals, but all detentions are made on a “case-by-case” basis.

SJPD will not be enlisting in ICE’s 287(g) program, which allows local police to be deputized for immigration enforcement, Garcia said. However, the chief added, the department reserves the right to assist Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)—a subset division of ICE—on gang probes with international ties.

“There have been countless times—before the fear we’re currently experiencing—where they would ask for assistance, and quite frankly we would need to have assurances that what happened in Santa Cruz wouldn’t happen here for us to be involved,” Garcia said.

In Santa Cruz, the city’s deputy chief, Rick Martinez, told a Good Times reporter that ICE tricked Santa Cruz police and had undermined the department. “This was a total bait and switch,” he said. “This action violated our trust in HSI and the local community’s trust in us.”

“If something similar were to happen in San Jose, I would have equally strong words,” Garcia said.

South Bay cities, particularly in South County, where agriculture drives local economies, are a target-rich environment for ICE to conduct immigration enforcement. But anyone detained can only be placed temporarily in the Morgan Hill office, due to the city’s permitting restrictions.

“It's just a processing center, not a detention center,” Schwab said. “I think the maximum time they can stay in there is 12 hours.”

Any undocumented immigrants detained in Santa Clara County would then likely be transported to facilities in Bakersfield or Contra Costa County.

San Jose’s police chief sounded cautiously optimistic after his meeting with ICE, despite noting the lack of certainty in answers he received.

“We really want ICE to be the leaders of the messaging to the community,” Garcia said. “Both Shannon (McCall) and David (Jennings) said they would be open to that.”

San Jose Inside requested an interview with Jennings, but the ICE field office director has yet to be made available for comment.

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


  1. The Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs mentioned as well as Mayor Liccardo, an Hispanic, who has an Italian sounding last name are all Mexicans being loyal to their people. They have taken oaths to protect and serve with faithfulness to the Constitution. The Chief has stated that he came from a foreign country as a young man and has refused to demonstrate that he is an American citizen. I believe that there are a large number of undocumented Mexicans working for the SJPD and City. Now I live in Saratoga so I’m not concerned but the first person to cleared as a documented per is the Chief.

    • Why are you spreading fake news? It is a such a pity that we have Mexican haters like you still in California.

    • Amen to comments from Rob and Jerome, but ultimately a waste of electrons. “Jack Slade” doesn’t let facts (or correct use of articles – “an Hispanic” [sic]) get in the way of his trolling.

      The vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding, share our values, and contribute to our society.

      • Your assertion is demonstrably false if you are aggregating illegal immigrants with legal immigrants. An illegal’s presence in the US is an ongoing violation of law, making them criminals and, obviously, not law-abiding in any way.

        Making a blanket assertion that even the ‘vast majority’ of immigrants ‘share our values’ is again demonstrably false.

        And, asserting they contribute to our society is easy to do. But the question is one of what, exactly, it is they contribute. All too many contribute nothing but pain, misery, chaos, anarch, and destruction.

        Most Americans think it is important to separate the wheat from the chaff and to respect the rule of law.

        • Thank you for your service – always appreciate corrections and clarifications of my inaccurate views and claims. I was using immigrant to mean foreign-born – not the “we’re all immigrants” classification. Illegals comprise (using the high estimate of 12M) about 3.6% of our population. The US admits about 485K / year (legal migrants). The figure excludes students, temporary workers, visitors etc. admitted on I-94 forms.

          Legal immigrants are vetted. All the data I’ve seen indicates they are more law-abiding than our native-born population. Not as much for illegals, but data (DOJ) shows most are law-abiding (excluding their residency status). Will appreciate the basis of your “demonstrably false” assertion.

          FWIW, I’d like to see our immigration laws vigorously enforced regardless of the otherwise law abiding nature of the illegal resident. And deport those that violate them like Justin Bieber.

          • Taxpayer, I, too would love to see our immigration laws vigorously and impartially enforced as you describe. AS well, I’d love to see the likes of Justin Bieber and all the rest deported when they violate the law. I am not sure about the nuances of deportation policy when it comes to laws broken by ‘refugees’ or ‘asylum seekers’ vs. those who are citizens but I personally think there ought to be some kind of remedy for deporting non-natural born citizens when they get arrested.

            Interestingly, there is a provision in immigration law for revoking the citizenship of foreign-born citizens when they join a subversive group within five years of their naturalization. As well, INA section 349 describes other circumstances under which natural-born citizens can lose their citizenship, among them, committing an act of treason against the US.

            I would be very curious to see how many naturalized citizens are members or supportive of organizations like La Raza or CAIR, and I would submit to you that both those organizations could easily be investigated for acts of treason against the US. On a separate – but potentially related – note, I would also suggest that organizations like BLM might easily be classified as terrorist organizations or that, at the least, many many members of BLM could individually be classified as terrorists, the legal definition of which is people who engage in “… the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).

            Returning to the question of who among legal and/or illegal immigrants are law-abiding, or not…

            I’ll simply link three separate articles regarding the *legal* Somali population in Minnesota and add that there is some seriously defective thinking going on at the Federal level if various persons in charge of such decisions thinks that putting desert-born desert-acclimated people in the middle of someplace like Minnesota is anything like a good idea. Personally, I think that the decision had more to do with the fact that Minnesota is something of an odd duck socio-politically speaking (they’d almost have to be if they keep electing Al Franken, don’t you think) and that transplanting Somali’s to someplace like Arizona or Texas might present other difficulties for the liberals in charge of such things.


            Now, I’ll add that we need to be extremely meticulous about our vetting of those refuges and immigrants from Muslim countries. We also need to recognize that orthodox (for lack of a better word) Islam is a system which governs the practitioners political, social and personal life in total. As such, it is the very definition of totalitarian. This is why there are no truly secular governments in the Arabic world (for instance) and absolutely NO recognition of the concept of separation of church and state as envisioned by the founders (and not the concept as advanced by those who peddle a pejorative version of the First Amendment). Any refugee or immigrant who embraces Sharia Law, by definition, does not share America’s values and has no interest in American culture per se. Sharia is diametrically opposed to the core values on which America was founded.

  2. In the context of ICE and immigration enforcement, when Chief Garcia – and certainly many others – speak of ‘eroding trust’, or ‘creating fear’ in ‘our communities’, the truth is that he – and they – are speaking of only one community: that of illegal immigrants. Only ONE group or community is the responsibility of ICE and a target for their enforcement actions: illegal immigrants.

    People make many specious arguments in favor of leniency, clemency, or amnesty for illegals. They often deploy arguments based on emotional appeal, but ignore the more rational arguments against leniency, clemency or amnesty.

    First and foremost, America is a nation of laws and ‘equal protection’ means enforcing immigration law just as ‘equally’.

    Second, many argue that all illegal immigrants are looking for is a better life away from their countries of origin. While this is certainly true in many cases, it essentially makes America and Americans responsible for alleviating the socio-economic problems which attend the massive corruption, mismanagement and graft in most – if not all – of those countries from which most of our illegal immigrants come. Further, I would argue that, by using the US as a sort of pressure release valve, there is a reduction of the internal pressures that might otherwise build sufficiently to force meaningful social change in those countries.

    Third, many argue that breaking up the families of illegal immigrants or, by corollary, sending ‘citizen children’ to live with their parents in their parents’ nations of origin makes those children victims of politics and immigration policy. To that, I would say that the children in question have been victimized, yes. But not by actual American Immigration policy, itself. Rather, they have been victimized by lax enforcement which encourages their parents to violate our borders and laws by turning a blind eye. More importantly, they have been victimized by their parents, themselves, who, knowingly, broke our laws, aware that deportation certainly could be a consequence.

    America is far from perfect. Certainly, we face many issues and difficulties which require hard work to resolve. I find it interesting that liberals often argue from one point in one breath, and then from the other side in their next.

    On the one hand, liberals often complain about low wages offered in entry positions for lower-skilled workers while failing to recognize how illegal immigration artificially depresses entry-level wages while simultaneously arguing that costs of various goods and services (often things like produce, along with house keeping and yard maintenance services) would increase.

    On the one hand, liberals complain about the costs and failures of America’s health care systems, while on the other hand, they ignore how illegal immigrants contribute to those high costs in various ways. For example, their primary point of medical service has generally been the emergency room, regardless of their medical complaint and this is the most costly avenue for health care. Then, too, illegals often do not pay for the services received and, since hospitals rarely – if ever – receive full reimbursement from the government which mandates that services be rendered regardless of ability to pay, they are forced to adjust the costs of services rendered to everyone else.

    On the one hand, liberals complain about living in unsafe communities or crime levels while ignoring the fact that illegal aliens contribute to criminalism. Notwithstanding the initial criminal entry to the country, no one can argue that that illegal immigrants don’t commit other crimes. Liberals might argue that, aside from criminal entry to the country, illegal immigrants don’t commit crimes in any greater percentages than legal residents. This assertion is certainly debatable, but, even if it were true, those percentages represent hard numbers of crimes committed by illegals. So, yes, if, somehow, all illegal immigrants were deported overnight, there would be a corollary decrease in crime levels all across America. Interestingly, this is the one that most directly affects SJPD. It’s not especially difficult for officers to notify ICE of suspected immigration violation and I think it would be to the benefit of SJPD to do so. According Mercury News, about 6.5% of the South Bays population is illegal immigrants. That’s over 65,000 people in San Jose alone. How many of them are committing other crimes. How much could San Jose’s already overworked police department benefit from the reduction in workload that would occur if 65,000 people were deported?

    I could cite many other examples, but I think that it is pretty easy to argue that illegal immigration does at least as much harm as good to the fabric of our society, and only slightly more difficult to argue that it does far more harm than good.

      • Take a look at this – this is the first “sanctuary jurisdiction” (that word makes it seem like folks are being lenient when what the policy really says is that divide law enforcement bw the agencies who specialize in enforcement in that area)

        This is from LAPD in 1979 headed up by Daryl Gates. That LAPD – the LAPD of the 1980s – didn’t play around.

        • This policy actually makes a great deal of sense. If the county made an issue of San Jose implementing a similar policy, San Jose could utilize its pre-processing center to detain suspected criminal aliens during the time it would take for ICE to respond. All it would take would be an assurance on the part of ICE that they would respond within a fixed, reasonable time frame.

          • “All it would take would be an assurance on the part of ICE that they would respond within a fixed, reasonable time frame.”


          • Associates, in my time on active duty, I had occasion to work directly with several ICE agents as well as FBI on various incidents. Granted, this was all during the Bush era, and things may have changed during the Obama admin. However, I found all of the federal agents to be professional, courteous and capable. I never had any issues referring a case to ICE or obtaining help from them when needed.

            I am not sure if the situation remains the same now. Hopefully, Eddie Garcia won’t poison the well, and I can see where some of the problems facing SJPD could be ameliorated – at least in part – by developing a quality working relationship with ICE, among other federal agencies.

  3. “An estimated 650 criminal offenders are released onto California’s streets every month in violation of the transfer request into federal custody. California denies almost two-thirds of the nation’s rejected alien detainer requests.”

    “An October 2014 report from ICE that was made public in 2015 detailed 276 sanctuary cities that released 8,145 illegal migrants of whom 1,867 were later arrested 4,298 times with multiple violations amounting to 7,491 charges. Illegal migrants are 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but are 37.6 percent of federal sentences and 13.6 percent of all offenders sentenced for crimes nationwide. The undocumented comprise 12 percent of murder sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping sentences and 16 percent of drug trafficking sentences. Unauthorized migrants are about 7 percent of the California population but over 12 percent of the state prison population. ”

    Source: – published Jan 20, 2017. No data to support Garcia’s or Liccardo’s claims.

  4. “The incident joins a growing number of reports in which ICE has been blamed for hurting a community’s trust in law enforcement.”

    The very same people who will, when it suits their political interests, point to the community’s lack of trust in law enforcement as justification for draconian levels of local police oversight, are now claiming, again in service to their political agenda, that the community of illegal residents does indeed trust their police departments. How f-ing convenient!

    Perhaps Chief Garcia can, when he’s not combing the deepest recesses of his officer’s brains for implicit biases, explain his ready acknowledgement of the trust of this one group in light of his equally ready acceptance of the distrust of so many other “communities.” Absent evidence of a respectable form of trust measurement, it appears the chief is just doing as he’s told — a political tool by any other name.

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