Thursday, March 29, 2007

Raids Tear San Diego Communities Apart

Lives Shattered...

This week the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) struck the heart of San Diego communities separating families and leaving community members outraged. Christian Ramirez, national base building coordinator for AFSC's Project Voice immigrant rights program, and a resident of one of the communities in which raids took place shared that, "We have kids who are without their parents, wives without their husbands and entire families torn apart." The raids included the homes of U.S. citizens he said. (Photo courtesy of Gabriel Cardenas)

In a March 28th hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) questioned ICE Assistant Secretary Julie Meyers on the methods used by the agency. "Broad-brush raids for undocumented immigrants that encroach on the daily lives of residents are an ineffective and inefficient use of ICE resources. They lead to mass chaos and confusion among our immigrant families, and that fear infects every member of our community," said Representative Farr.

Watch video footage of the raids shot by AFSC here (NBC 7/39).

Communities Speak Out...

Community residents organized in opposition to the raids and brought their concerns to a meeting with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on March 28th. "There are other cities around the country - through their city councils and mayoral proclamations, resolutions - that are taking a stand on this, because residents of their particular communities are being affected," said Pedro Rios, Director of AFSC's San Diego Office.

Watch news on the reaction of residents here (NBC 7/39).

Mayoral spokesperson Fred Sainz said that the city was not involved in the operations and maintains a policy against involvement in federal immigration issues. The raids are part of the ICE Outgoing Fugitives Program, which started in 2003, said ICE spokesperson Virginia Kise.

Community residents said that the agents who came to their homes identified themselves as police. The agents claimed to be looking for several suspects and presented photos of the alleged suspects. After the residents opened their doors the agents asked for the residents' documents. Residents said that they were never shown a warrant. (Photo courtesy of Gabriel Cardenas)

"Your home is this sacred area where you feel comfortable and at peace," said Rios. "For someone to violate that, it really plants fear."

Tools for Communities Affected by the Raids

AFSC San Diego will continue to monitor this situation and work with community members affected by the raids. For a toolkit for communities affected by raids from the Detention Watch Netork click here.

Action to Consider...

Contact Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at (202) 224-3841 or by e-mail to inform her that:

1. You support her recent letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff expressing concern for the impact of the raids on families and children;
2. You are concerned about the impact of the recent ICE raids in San Diego on communities;
3. Congress should exercise appropriate oversight and hold a hearing on the conduct, purpose, and impact of the ICE raids.

Join AFSC's "End the Raids" Campaign by joining hundreds of individuals and organizations that have signed on. View the statement and sign on.