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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Immigrant Rights
ICE raids in Berkeley, Oakland frighten schoolchildren, parents
figured that there should be some backgroun on the site somewhere!
Tuesday, May 6, 2008 (SF Chronicle)
ICE raids in Berkeley, Oakland
frighten schoolchildren, parents
Jill Tucker,Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writers
(05-06) 19:24 PDT Oakland -- Immigration arrests at homes in Berkeley and
Oakland on Tuesday sent a wave of panic among parents in both cities, as
authorities mistakenly believed immigration agents were raiding schools.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were in both cities
Tuesday, performing routine fugitive operations, spokeswoman Virginia Kice
said. Teams go out virtually every day looking for specific "immigration
fugitives," she said.
Officers arrested four family members at a Berkeley home and a woman at an
Oakland residence. They were not at schools.
Yet, within the next few hours, rumors of raids circulated throughout the
In Berkeley, school district Superintendent Bill Huyet sent out an
automated phone message to all parents notifying them that a Latino family
had been picked up and assuring them that the district would "not allow
any child to be taken away from the school."
In Oakland, Mayor Ron Dellums and three school board members converged at
the end of the school day on Stonehurst Elementary School along with
immigration rights advocates, saying they believed ICE agents "would
"In my view, that is the ugly side of government," Dellums said. "No way
children should ever be treated to that kind of harassment and fear."
He said police officers will be posted at the campus Wednesday to ensure
that federal immigration officials don't come onto school grounds. He
added that federal officials have assured him they will not be at schools.
Initially, Oakland district officials said federal agents were at
Stonehurst and denied entry by school staff. By late afternoon, they
rescinded that, saying that an ICE vehicle was seen nearby. Berkeley
officials also said no agents were at local schools.
Still, state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, got involved.
"There should be an immediate freeze on ICE raids directed at
schoolchildren while legislation aiming to fix immigration is considered,"
he said in a statement.
Later, immigration advocates said they believed ICE vans were circling
schools and intimidating the community, noting that ICE officers
accompanied a mother onto an Oakland school campus in December before
questioning her in a workplace investigation.
Kice said Tuesday's rumors took on a life of their own.
In most cases, ICE fugitive operations take place at residences or
sometimes at places of employment, she said. "A school is not a place we
would routinely conduct an enforcement operation for a variety of
reasons," Kice said.
The fear across the communities, however, was real.
"People are terrified," said Berkeley Unified spokesman Mark Coplan.
"There is a lot of speculation."
Larry Bensky's fifth grade daughter came home from Berkeley's LeConte
Elementary School on Tuesday saying she had no homework because it was
"ICE week," which meant "they" were going after the families of the Latino
"She doesn't know what ICE is," Bensky said. "She doesn't know what
targeted is. You can imagine it's very disturbing for children that from
one day to the next that a child they sit next to could be kidnapped,
arrested and deported."
E-mail the writers at jtucker [at] sfchronicle.com and
jvanderbeken [at] sfchronicle.com.