Activists call for Sacramento jail to stop housing ICE detainees

Sacramento activists plan on targeting Sheriff Scott Jones with a protest Wednesday night over the department's contract with federal authorities to hold immigration detainees in a local jail.

The action comes the night before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to deliver a "major" announcement about sanctuary jurisdictions while speaking at a law enforcement gathering in Sacramento. Sessions isn't giving details on what the announcement will be.

Carlos Montes-Ponce of Sacramento Area Congregations Together said the Wednesday event was meant to refocus the national immigration debate on local issues.

Listening to Parolees

Fighting back tears, a parolee spoke at a recent public forum: He said he felt discarded when he went from prison to freedom in Sacramento, where he had never been before.

Paroled to this city after more than a decade behind bars, the man said no one awaited him when he arrived here. He had an address for a local place with a bed, but he had no clue how to get there by bus — and things got no better afterward.

The man made these emotional remarks at a recent public forum hosted by the Sacramento Community Reinvestment Coalition, or SCRC, which is financially supported by The California Endowment. The broad-based SCRC is hearing people’s concerns about the criminal justice system, before asking the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to reinvest in the formerly incarcerated and their families in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“Those who hold solutions are often those closest to the pain,” said Ryan McClinton, community organizer for Sacramento ACT, on why the Sacramento Community Reinvestment Coalition wants to hear from victims of the criminal justice system.

After three forums, SCRC has identi ed three key issues that demand action in the county’s $4 billion-plus upcoming budget. They are:

• Better “wraparound services” for parolees under the jurisdiction of the Sacramento County Probation Department,

• More mental health/therapy services for parolees and their families, and

• More liveable-wage jobs/job training in disadvantaged communities.

By reducing the number of California prison inmates, Propositions 47 and 57 and other reform measures generate millions for Sacramento County, which controls local jails, McClinton said.

“The county has money ... to address systemic problems,” he said, but it isn’t spending enough to “keep people out of prison.”

The county’s Probation Department has good programs, McClinton said, including one in which young inmates take college classes while in juvenile detention, then enroll in community colleges upon release. But in some areas, he said, the department underperforms.

“We do our best to provide wraparound services for inmates returning from prison, but we agree there’s more work to be done,” said Lee Seale, the county’s chief probation of cer.

Ryan mcClinton, community organizer for Sacramento aCT wants to hear from victims of the criminal justice system. Photo by Edgar Sanchez

Seale cautioned that some parolees may be under federal or state jurisdiction and would not be served by the county. He also said the county has recently made “important investments” to enhance parolee services.

The next SCRC forum will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at Liberty Towers Church, 5132 Elkhorn Blvd., Sacramento.

Carr Holds Community Meeting Against Gun Violence

SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento city council member Larry Carr held a gathering Wednesday morning at the Meadowview Community Center to talk about gun violence.

"As we've seen through the last year, it's been something that has plagued a lot of our streets," Sacramento Area Congregations Together spokesperson Ryan McClinton said. "It led to a lot of bloodshed and life loss that needs to be addressed."

The Sacramento City Council voted recently to adopt a controversial program that offers a stipend to known troublemakers in the city to put down their guns and stay peaceful.

McClinton thinks the program, known as Advance Peace, is a good start.

A big issue for Carr is that recent gang-related gun violence often puts innocent bystanders at risk.

Deborah Nelson is all too familiar with gun violence. It's been seven years since her daughter was killed in the barbershop shooting on Stockton Boulevard. Monique Nelson was shielding her 2-year-old son when bullets, not intended for her, came flying by.

"The real danger is many times they don't hit their target and hit innocent individuals as in the case of Miss Nelson's daughter," Carr said. "Every life is precious and we have too many people in our city, in our state, in our country getting shot. So we want to stop that."

Deportation panic: Even the sheriff doesn’t know what immigration authorities are planning for Sacramento

Rumors of a major immigration sweep targeting Northern California have put politicians, local activists on even higher alert

By Raheem F. Hosseini

This article was published on 01.25.18.

Citing a source familiar with the operation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that federal immigration authorities were plotting what could be the largest deportation sweep under President Donald Trump in cities across Northern California.

The January 17 article said the planned raids could result in the arrests of 1,500 undocumented immigrants as the Trump administration looks to make an example of California, which rebuked the president’s anti-immigrant agenda by mandating non-cooperation with indiscriminate deportation efforts. Since the Chronicle report, communities across California have been tensing with anticipation over what may be heading their way.

“Everything continues to be rumors,” said Carlos Montes-Ponce, a community organizer with Sacramento ACT (which stands for Area Congregations Together). “People are really looking for information.”

But the federal government’s plans have remained locked in a proverbial black box, with even powerful politicians pressing for answers.

In a joint letter issued the same day as the Chronicle report, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris requested a briefing from Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE. The letter referenced Homan’s January 2 statements on Fox News, where he ominously warned that “California better hold on tight.”

“We firmly believe that law enforcement must prioritize dangerous criminals, not undocumented immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety,” the California Democrats’ letter read. “Diverting resources in an effort to punish California and score political points is an abhorrent abuse of power, not to mention a terrible misuse of scarce resources.”

An ICE spokesman didn’t respond to an SN&R request for comment Tuesday.

A day earlier, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said during a meeting with a community advisory board that he was in the dark, too. “I’ve never been informed of an ICE raid,” Jones said. “We don’t work with them. We don’t do anything. They do their thing.”

The Sheriff’s Department does have a passive relationship with ICE, which enforces federal immigration policy in the United States. Since 2000, ICE has leased space at the Sheriff’s Department’s jail in Elk Grove, where ICE incarcerates detainees being processed for deportation.

California’s so-called sanctuary law, Senate Bill 54, further restricted the level of cooperation that local law enforcement agencies and employers can grant to federal immigration authorities, but carved out an exception for preexisting detainee contracts like the one the Sheriff’s Department has with ICE. “It doesn’t affect our ability to continue that contract or renew that contract,” Jones explained.

That contract is due to expire later this year, unless the federal government and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors decide to renew it.

Jones noted that SB 54 “still allows ICE to come into our facilities and access our inmates,” though the inmates have to be advised of their right not to speak to agents. “It has very little impact on their ability to come in and conduct interviews and take custody of most of the folks they would otherwise take custody of,” the sheriff added.

In the meantime, immigration advocates are on high alert, where they’ve been since Trump was elected.

On Monday, more than 100 people from different faiths and 13 states struck a defiant tone against the raid rumors inside a ballroom at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West in North Sacramento. The Sacramento Immigration Coalition was among the organizations represented. The coalition organizes regular know-your-rights trainings, has set up a rapid-response hotline and is training community members to act as legal observers—“what we call moral observers,” Montes-Ponce said.

The organizer was careful to note that legal observers are dispatched to scenes of immigration arrests to monitor authorities, not to intervene. “They’re only there to observe, not to break up anything,” he explained.

Since SB 54 went into effect, Montes-Ponce said Sacramento ACT has been hearing anecdotal accounts of ICE agents arresting people at their homes in the early morning hours.

“Right now it just continues to be threats,” he said.

Experts explain legal boundaries when resisting ICE raids



Churches and synagogues are teaming up with immigrant rights groups and actively urging people to resist any raids by federal agents.

"We have a moral obligation to resist massive deportation," said Richard Morales of La Red, which stands for Liberation, Action, Respect, Equity and Dignity.

"We're going to continue to protect and resist any attacks on our families across the board," said Eddie Carmona of PICO, People Involving Communities through Organizing.

The battle over immigration reform is heating up in Sacramento, where activists are utilizing rapid response teams and telephone hotlines to warn undocumented immigrants about potential raids.

"Black and brown people will no longer be divided," said the Rev. Payton Parker of Faith in Texas. "We will stand united," he said to cheers at a Sacramento rally Monday.

Sacramento's largest Jewish synagogue, Congregation B'nai Israel is an official sanctuary site, offering support to undocumented immigrants.

But could federal agents enter the temple grounds for enforcement actions?

"It's something the government hasn't done," UC Davis Law School Dean Kevin Johnson said. "But, there might not be anything under the law that would prohibit that."

ICE agents would first need a warrant signed by a court, Johnson explained. But he said the optics might not look good.

"At this point, it seems to be official ICE policy that churches are going to be safe," Johnson said. "Public schools are generally going to be safe places from ICE enforcement."

The same is true for hospitals.

But can ICE agents enter your home?

There are rules in place to protect immigrants, according to Blake Nordahl, a professor at the McGeorge School of Law. Nordahl also runs the school's Immigration Law Clinic.

"The only way an officer can come into your home is if they have a judicial warrant signed by a court that provides the right to search your home," he said.

Carlos Montez of Sacramento Area Congregations Together said immigrants "have the right not to speak to the individual ICE agent. They have the right not to open the door unless they present a warrant that is signed by a judge."

If immigration agents do enter with a warrant, Nordahl said it's important not to lie about immigration status.

"You cannot present documentation that is false," Nordahl said. "You cannot make any false statements. But, you do have that very important right if you are undocumented to remain silent."

Businesses must also comply with a search warrant signed by a judge. 

"If there's a judicially authorized warrant they have to make all their property available," Johnson said. "What employers don't have to do is let ICE look at private parts of the workplace that are not open to the public, absent a warrant."

California businesses must also keep records of their employees on I-9 forms and make them available in the event of an audit.

Until there's a deal on DACA or new rules on immigration law, activists have vowed to continue the fight.

"Our families, our communities are all under threat," said Tuan Dinh Janelle of People Acting in Community Together.

KCRA 3 tried reaching out to ICE on Monday for comment, but there was no response due to the government shutdown. However, ICE's acting director has publicly stated that California can expect enhanced enforcement.

California's status as a sanctuary state doesn't change federal law, but it does mean local police cannot help ICE agents during their enforcement actions.

California is also fighting back in other ways. Gov. Jerry Brown's state budget calls for $20 million to help undocumented students renew their DACA applications.

How far can resisting ICE go before feds push back

Religious groups and others on behalf of Sacramento Area Congregations Together are urging undocumented immigrants to not cooperate in the event of an enforcement action or raid by ICE.

They are urging people to contact rapid response teams in the event of a raid and offering legal advice that includes not talking to ICE agents and insisting on having a lawyer.

Legal experts said ICE has full authority to make arrests and deportations, but undocumented immigrants don't have to open the door to them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.