ICE collaboration – frequently through the ironically-named Secure Communities (S-Comm) program – has had a disastrous effect on Alameda County, resulting in the detention and deportation of countless family members, heads of households, and other people important to the fabric of our communities. Sadly, we have witnessed people criminalized and dehumanized by local law enforcement in collaboration with ICE merely based upon a suspicion that they lack immigration documents. When our community members are detained and deported, families are separated, and economic and emotional hardship for those left behind – often children – is a common result.
Alameda County families and communities have been hit particularly hard by the county’s collaboration with ICE. Nearly two thousand Alameda County residents since 2008 have been deported as a result of the Sheriff Ahern’s participation in S-Comm, and many more have been deported due to collaboration with ICE in another form.
A huge number of these people are never charged with – much less convicted of – any crime after they are arrested and detained. Any undocumented immigrant in Alameda County is liable to be apprehended, held, and ultimately turned over to ICE authorities for deportation. Victims of domestic violence in Alameda County have even been arrested and detained for ICE after calling 911. It is no wonder that immigrants who are victims and witnesses to crime in Alameda County are often too fearful to contact local law enforcement officials. Alameda County’s collaboration in immigrant detention and deportation erodes public trust in law enforcement and harms public safety.
The current Alameda County policy is not required. Through Secure Communities and other related programs, ICE merely requests the cooperation of local law enforcement officials in the detention and deportation of immigrants. This fact has been confirmed repeatedly, including by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Alameda County is free to deny ICE’s requests – and it should.
Immigrants comprise a large and important part of Alameda County, which has historically been welcoming of people striving to make a better life for themselves and their families. Participation in S-Comm and other forms of immigrant detention and deportation is staunchly anti-immigrant and does not reflect the values of Alameda County.
Countless Alameda County families have been separated because Sheriff Ahern’s office has, without providing any kind of due process, held people for ICE on the grounds that ICE believed they were “removable.” We the people of Alameda County disagree that these are “removable” community members, and ask that the county no longer collaborate in ICE’s immigrant detention and deportation business.