BAY AREA (KPIX 5) — Bay Area immigrant groups are urging the community to stay calm and know their rights with the threat of ICE raids looming this Sunday.
“We are standing in power. The Trump administration will not, will not, terrorize this community,” said Maritza Maldonado, Director of Amigos de Guadalupe in San Jose.
Maldonado is part of the Santa Clara County Rapid Response Network, which held a news conference and rally to give support to undocumented immigrants and their families who could be arrested or separated by ICE enforcement actions.
The network is on high alert. The organization has set up a 24/7 hotline (408-209-1144) connecting volunteer responders and attorneys to serve as witnesses for and represent people targeted by enforcement actions.
“People need to know their rights and how to exercise them. When you know your rights you can better prepare and hopefully avoid a detention or a deportation,” said Sacred Heart Community Service’s Eunice Hernandez.
Several San Jose churches and places of worship are being turned into sanctuaries to shield persons from enforcement.
“We cannot, we cannot remain silent. Thoughts and prayers are not going to be enough at this point, it needs to be action and commitment,” said Father Jon Pedigo, a Catholic priest who ministers to the immigrant community.
But supporters are also telling people who may be targeted to have an emergency plan, just in case.
“Maybe one day I’ll come home and my parents aren’t going to be there,” said 18 year old Naomi Islas, who was born in the U.S. but her parents are undocumented.
Islas said her family’s plan calls on her to finish raising her younger siblings if her parents get taken away.
“My parents came here to find a better life. And they wanted us to succeed. And we’re going to succeed for them,” Islas said.
At San Rafael’s Canal Alliance, the traffic never stopped Friday. Immigration Services Director Lucia Martel-Dow told KPIX 5 some of the adults and children who were coming in search of legal advice have just passed through the detention centers on the southern border.
“So those families, our newcomers, are very, very afraid,” said Martel-Dow. “They may be a priority for deportation, according to what the government said.”
And that fear of ICE raids targeting people solely for their legal status has spread out across the neighborhood.
“The majority of the population are immigrants,” Martel-Dow explained. “Different statuses. Not everybody is undocumented. But this neighborhood has seen, as I mentioned before, raids happening previously.”
It was 2007, and 2008 when immigration agents targeted the Canal District in a series of overnight raids.
“So for them, they know they’re vulnerable. Because this is happened before,” said Martel-Dow.
The agency is handing out red cards with legal advice and instructions for anyone who encounters immigration agents. Attorneys will be standing by this weekend. The message from counselors here: be informed.
“It is on purpose,” Martel-Dow said of the fear in the community. “This administration is doing this on purpose. They really want to bring fear to the community. This is what they want to do. And we really want to tell everyone what they need to have is information.”
Immigrant rights groups have organized several Bay Area protests over the planned raids.
About 350 people attended the rally that started at 5 p.m. Thursday outside of the ICE offices at 630 Sansome St. in San Francisco. An additional raid was held at the offices Friday morning.