Homeland Security / ICE agents conducted an operation at 4 am in my neighborhood of Live Oak and elsewhere around Santa Cruz County, centered on the arrest of members of the MS-13 gang. This operation was the culmination of an investigation ongoing since 2011. [Reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.]
Update: Adding clarity to reference that the “Gang Unit” is a division of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) according to the FBI. This might not have been “immigration-related” but it was absolutely under the auspices of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
It does not matter that these raids took part as an operation against gang violence; the scare tactic of “bad hombres” is only an excuse to continue ICE’s operation in our community. Homeland Security / ICE has their own resources, and can do their own work without the involvement of our local Police Department. Residents of Santa Cruz County must be able to trust that their local law enforcement does not work with a federal department that is set to build a “deportation force” that will drastically increase the risks of individuals reporting crimes.
Santa Cruz has a resolution in place that we are a sanctuary city, but that resolution has not yet been accompanied by an ordinance put into law. This means that effectively any undocumented individual in Santa Cruz, reporting any crime, runs the risk of having their information passed along to immigration authorities at one point or another.
We must reject the involvement of our local law enforcement with Homeland Security and ICE. Law enforcement is a local force, and must be able to respond to local crises without the perception that they are collaborating with a government agency that is hostile to the values and residents of Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz recently postponed discussion on a sanctuary city resolution from tomorrow to two weeks later on February 28. This is too late. We must respond to this crisis by removing our local police force from federal activities.
I suggest you call members of the City Council and voice your support for this resolution, and ask that the resolution be discussed as soon as possible [contact info].
In particular, council member Chris Krohn has been supportive of this resolution and will likely be responsive: email@example.com.