Sacramento area immigration advocates say recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits have created heightened fear in the immigrant community but they’re taking action.
On Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it served notices of inspection (NOI) to approximately 77 businesses across Northern California, ICE officials said in a press release.
The California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF) has launched a legal defense program for undocumented immigrants being called Family, Unity, Education, and Legal Network (FUEL).
In November, the immigrants’ rights group was awarded a $300,000 grant from the City of Sacramento to launch the program. Marcus Tang is the Citizenship and Immigration Project Director with the CRLAF.
“The idea behind fuel is to bring all the different partners that are working in Sacramento on behalf of immigrants to prevent, prepare for, or avoid or defend against deportation,” Tang said.
Since ICE began ramping up enforcements in the region last year, a series of groups have stepped up to the plate to provide resources to immigrants. The CRLAF offers a number of legal resources – Other groups have established a 24-hour hotline to report and document ICE raids, offer know-your-rights workshops, and Sacramento’s oldest Jewish congregation is offering sanctuary to undocumented people from ICE.
FUEL aims to consolidate some of the things already happening in the region, Tang said.
“When there is more and more people who are being detained, when there are more and more people being deported, we want to be sure that people are at least given their day in court, that people know what their rights are,” Tang said.
Carlos Montes with the Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT) compared the mood for undocumented immigrants to a song called the “Golden Cage” by the San Jose based music group, The Tigers of the North.
The song translated from Spanish tells the story of an undocumented Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for a decade. The immigrant has a family and a job but describes living in America as living in a Golden Cage.
“This more deeper fear than usual,” Montes said.
Since news of recent ICE audits, Sacramento ACT has received a number of calls from concerned community members.
“They only go to what they need to. So, if they need to go grocery shopping, they’ll go grocery shopping but then they’ll go straight home,” Montes said. “They don’t want to be out, overexposing themselves because there’s all this uncertainty.”