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Bay Area braces for weekend of threatened raids on immigrant families

The Bay Area is bracing itself for a weekend of threatened federal raids on undocumented immigrants in major metropolitan areas. Mayors of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose condemned the planned action, activists protested outside federal immigration offices, and civil rights groups advised immigrants to keep their doors — and mouths — shut if agents come knocking.

The nationwide raids are expected to begin Sunday, in a crackdown that President Trump initially said would remove millions of people living illegally in the United States. But Mark Morgan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, later tamped down those numbers and said agents would focus only on about 2,000 recently arrived undocumented families who have already received final removal orders from immigration courts.

Regardless of the numbers, anger over the anticipated raids simmered Friday as politicians, activists and undocumented immigrant families waited.

“I think the vast majority of people are angered by it,” Maureen Boyd of Oakland said at a rally Friday outside the immigration offices on Sansome Street to protest the president’s immigration policies. “That’s why so many people showed up for a small rally and why there was a mass movement into the streets.”

It was the second straight day that hundreds of people gathered in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices to condemn the administration’s policies that have separated parents from their children, keeping the kids in crowded camps.

“No excuses for human rights abuses,” the crowd chanted, waving signs likening ICE agents to Nazi storm troopers.

Yvette Felarca, Northern California organizer for By Any Means Necessary, a group that has protested conservative speakers at UC Berkeley, said the group is calling for emergency protests to shut down ICE raids once they’re spotted and verified.

“We want to stop ICE and prevent them from kidnapping any immigrant families,” she said.

Meanwhile, the mayors of Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco — all sanctuary cities — voiced their opposition to the planned raids. Mayor London Breed vowed that San Francisco would not cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“We have been and will continue to be a sanctuary city, despite what we know are challenges that we continue to face from this administration in the White House,” Breed said at a City Hall news conference Friday.

The raids are expected to take place in at least 10 major cities around the country. Threats of similar raids were made last month, but Trump canceled them at the last minute.

Breed said that San Francisco officials will “monitor the situation” and continue to offer immigration services in the city through the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs.

Immigrants’ rights groups said they noticed “a flurry” of ICE detentions in Santa Rosa, and Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties this week but have been unable to connect them with the threatened raids.

“We only hear about a small percentage of what is actually taking place,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah of the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network, which provides legal services. He said many people aren’t aware of the rapid response number offered by her group, or are too afraid to call.

“We’ve asked ICE for transparency with respect for the total number, but we haven’t gotten it. It’s an uptick in arrests in a short period of time compared with what we’re used to seeing in Northern California,” he added.

Immigrant rights groups are gearing up for raids by reminding undocumented immigrants that they don’t have to open their doors if ICE agents knock. They are also telling clients that they have the right to remain silent and request legal assistance.

Juan Prieto, an organizer with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, said his members, most of them undocumented young people, are working to ensure their community is aware should raids occur. The alliance is ready to work with the rapid response team to get detainees immediate legal representation, he said.

“For now, we’re trying to inform people of their rights,” Prieto said. “Do not open the door. ICE agents may try to get in by showing a warrant, but if it’s signed by an ICE official not a judge, it’s not a real warrant.”

Supporters can help by protesting the raids since immigrants, undocumented or legal, may feel too threatened to speak out, he said.

“People should be very vigilant of what’s going on in their communities,” Prieto said. “ICE is used to … not being supervised. It’s up to citizens to rise up and fight for everybody’s rights. When people rise up and try to stop things en masse, that’s when things change.”

Trisha Thadani, Michael Cabanatuan and Ashley McBride
San Francisco Chronicle

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