Threat of ICE raids sparks fear, activism in Bay Area immigrant communities

The prospect of nationwide immigration raids starting this weekend has spread fear in the Bay Area’s immigrant communities, and added new urgency to local advocates’ efforts to defend undocumented residents across the region.

Activists have set up a network of hotlines to confirm reports about raids, and readied a cadre of volunteer lawyers to assist detainees in court, in preparation for what could be the largest coordinated operation to detain immigrants since President Donald Trump took office.

“We want to respond with power, not panic,” said Sandy Valenciano, 26, an immigrant rights activist in Oakland, who is undocumented.

The Trump administration is planning to begin a nationwide immigration enforcement operation, moving forward with plans that had been announced — and subsequently postponed — by Trump late last month amid objections from Congressional leaders and officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

Though plans for the raids appear to still be in flux, multiple news outlets have reported that the operation is set to begin Sunday, and will target at least 2,000 immigrants with final deportation orders, as well as any “collateral” individuals without documentation who are found in the process.

At least 10 cities are expected to be targeted, including San Francisco. A spokesperson for ICE’s San Francisco office declined to confirm whether or where any raids would occur, but the office noted that it directs enforcement and removal operations around the Bay Area, not just in the city itself.

Activists monitoring ICE activity said they’d already seen a spike in Bay Area enforcement actions since last weekend, particularly in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.

“It seems to us that their operation has already begun, in one way or another, here in Northern California,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, an attorney with the San Francisco Bar Association, which is coordinating pro bono legal assistance for immigrants detained …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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