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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Peninsula | Government & Elections | Immigrant Rights | Police State and Prisons
Eleventh Hour ICE Raids Resolution: Too Little Too Late?
The ICE program named *Return to Sender* has people asking, “are these human beings they are talking about, or sacks of mail?”
On October 20 immigrant rights activists appealed to the Palo Alto City Council for immediate passage of a resolution urging the US Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to enforce laws in accordance with Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Photos: Sharat Lin
A dozen speakers waited and watched the clock Monday night; it was close to 11pm when one by one they were finally able to take their place at the podium and make heart-felt appeals to the Palo Alto City Council.
Many spoke of Pedro Ramirez and Isabel Aguirre, whose four US-born children were attending Palo Alto schools last year when the parents were deported. The family was forced to return to rural Mexico to stay together, to a town lacking schools and a country where the children are not at home with the language and customs. Samina Faheem of *American Muslim Voice* stood before the council and said she has tried to keep in contact with the family and is worried about their welfare.
A resolution in the making since April 2007, initially put together by Palo Alto’s Human Rights Commission, simply urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency's (ICE) to enforce laws in accordance with Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Monday night’s speakers have seen the horrors inflicted upon undocumented immigrants by the overreaching arm of ICE. Several of those appealing for passage of the resolution stated that ICE agents identify themselves as police rather than federal agents to gain access to homes. More than one said they think that the name of the ICE program *Return to Sender* speaks volumes. “Are these humans they are talking about, or sacks of mail?” Ms. Faheem wondered allowed. She continued her appeal saying that “detention centers have become big business with ICE raids.” She has seen the bare, cold walls of the inside of these centers and spoke of the freezing conditions in which at least one female immigrant she was trying to help was kept overnight. Vans in which detainees are transported have no seats; dozens are thrown together in the back of ICE vehicles.
“These raids are a blatant form of racial profiling,” she said. “There are many mixed status families in our country. While one or both parents may be undocumented, their children are often US born. The children have to choose between going with their parents or going into the American foster care system. I don’t think that is a choice any of us would want to have to make.”
Whether Middle-Eastern or Latino, the detainees Samina Faheem works with “are denied due process. Their fate is decided in haste by an immigration judge and they are lucky to get a few days to wrap up their meager possessions.” She called the practices visited upon those detained by ICE “immoral, unethical, inhumane and totally un-American". She asked that the council pass the resolution swiftly in honor of the Ramirez-Aguirre family.
Also speaking on behalf of passage of the resolution were Ruth and George Chippendale, Palo Alto residents and decades-long volunteers. Both in their 80’s, they tried hard not to nod off as the evening wore on.
It was close to midnight when the resolution was passed by a vote of 6 to 2 with one abstention. Council member Jack Morton urged his colleagues to make a unanimous decision in favor of the resolution; he spoke of a time in history when victims of the Holocaust might not have suffered their fate if people had been brave enough to speak out. Despite a most eloquent speech by Councilman Morton, there were two holdouts. Mayor Larry Klein and Council member John Barton found reason to vote NO.
They voted NO to a resolution that, while it may be too little too late, cried out for a unanimous YES vote from the council.
The two council members who voted against the resolution, Larry Klein and John Barton, with heads down. They listen to the last speaker, who spoke on behalf of the Raging Grannies.
Mayor Larry Klein (far right) said he could not vote yes as this, "is not an issue for a city council to take up." (Note that due to photo perspectieve, nameplates are not aligned with the council members. Peter Drekmeier, second from right, is WITH the cause of immigrant rights).
Ms. Mancilla spoke of a case of an ICE arrest that has deeply hurt the local community. Luciano Caciano-Miranda sparked local outcry and gained national attention when he was arrested by undercover ICE agents last year while visiting his goddaughter and her mother in Sunnyvale. The agents knocked on the door with an arrest warrant, and when they couldn't find the person they were looking for, they instead arrested Caciano-Miranda instead.
Despite his work as a youth leader, and his many successes keeping at-risk kids out of gangs, Caciano-Miranda could not obtain a visa to stay in the United States. In her remarks from the bench, Judge Colly Weber said she regretted that immigration law provided no other options.