In order for us to bring an end to the raids entire communities must unite across cultures and class to stand up and say “We won’t take it anymore- stop breaking up families, stop the raids”. San Francisco is leading the way, and we hope other cities and states will follow….
NEW YORK TIMES: San Francisco Bay Area Reacts Angrily to Series of Immigration Raids
By JESSE McKINLEY
April 28, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, April 27 — It was not the typical Bay Area morning. Before dawn on March 6, dozens of federal immigration agents conducted surprise raids in San Rafael and nearby Novato, two comfortable Marin County suburbs where the idea of early morning excitement usually involves a trip to Starbucks.
The raids are part of the government’s Operation Return to Sender, in which more than 23,000 people have been arrested nationwide, including more than 1,800 in Northern and Central California, immigration officials said.
And while the raids have upset many pro-immigrant groups nationwide, that displeasure has been particularly acute in the Bay Area, a region that generally bends left politically and where many cities consider themselves so-called “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants.
“These people have been here many, many years and they have an investment in the community,” said Mayor Al Boro of San Rafael, a city of about 56,000 residents, a quarter of whom are Latino. “And we need to respect that.”
Several city councils have passed resolutions expressing their anger about the raids, and local religious leaders have issued stern proclamations. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, for example, said in late March that they were inhumane and called for their immediate end. The raids have also led to protests in several cities, with another round planned for Tuesday in the area’s three largest cities: San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
The raids have even upset people in more conservative regions to the east. In Mendota, an agricultural town in the Central Valley that calls itself the “Cantaloupe Center of the World,” the City Council passed a resolution last month condemning them. The raids, according to the resolution, had driven much-needed migrant workers underground and caused “emotional turmoil and financial hardship.”
In Richmond, another economically challenged city just east across the bay from San Francisco, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a member of the Green Party, wrote a bill restating an ordinance that prohibits city employees from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. It passed the City Council unanimously in February.
That sanctuary sentiment was also echoed on Sunday in a speech by Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, a Democrat, who repeated his city’s noncooperative status, a move that drew a rebuke from a Republican lawmaker in Washington, Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who called the mayor’s actions “a clear and direct violation of the law.”
The anti-raid sentiments have also energized some opponents of immigration. A recent protest in San Rafael was also attended by nearly 100 members of anti-immigrant groups, including members of the Northern California chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that advocates stronger borders.
Much of the debate has been focused in San Rafael, a genial bayside commuter city about 20 miles north of San Francisco. Shortly after the raids, Mr. Boro sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, saying they had “left our city in turmoil,” with residents now distrustful of the police and children fearful of losing their parents.
“Waking people up in the dark of night, at 5 a.m., in their homes seems more like a scare tactic than a law enforcement necessity,” Mr. Boro wrote.
Calls to the local police have decreased in recent weeks, Mr. Boro said, and he attributed the dropoff to the immigration raids’ “chilling effect because people think our police were involved.”
Educators in San Rafael said the raids sent schools into “a state of emergency” as American-born children were suddenly without one or both parents who had been caught up in the sweeps. Shortly afterward, absenteeism at school spiked, and school officials asked teachers and others to ride buses with students to make sure a caregiver picked them up.
A school board member, Jenny Callaway, said she feared that test scores of anxiety-ridden students would suffer. “Our charge is to provide a quality education regardless of citizenship,” Ms. Callaway said. “How do we do this when children are afraid to come to the bus stop?”