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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Americas | East Bay | U.S. | Immigrant Rights | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Exposing OPD and ICE Lies About the Raid of West Oakland Latina Home
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit raided the home of a West Oakland Latina family on August 16. Oakland police claim their only role was blocking street traffic while the raid was conducted, but it's hard to take anything Oakland police say at face value when both ICE and the Oakland police department have lied about the incident. Defensive about the raid, Oakland police first smeared the family with a salacious and blatantly untrue allegation while the raid was still in progress — and OPD Chief Anne Kirkpatrick continues to spread falsehoods about the matter, her statements at a town hall last week ridiculously inferring that one brother was charged for trafficking his younger sibling. Bigger picture, both ICE and OPD publicly promote a false distinction between ICE's criminal investigation and immigration enforcement functions, whittling away at any value Oakland has as a "sanctuary city."
[OPD Chief Anne Kirkpatrick misinforming the public at a Town Hall meeting, August 6. Video courtesy of Darwin BondGraham.]
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) insists the raid was part of a criminal investigation, not an immigration enforcement action, yet other than handcuffing and holding the the family hostage for four hours on August 16, interrogating them one by one, and confiscating their property, the only action taken by ICE against any residents of the home to date was the removal of two adult brothers originally from Guatemala, one of whom, Santos, was jailed for two full weeks, not for a crime related to the raid but over his immigration status. In this article, brothers Santos and Darwin will be referred to by first name only, in order to protect their privacy.
Even though the Homeland Security form I-213 for Santos reads "arrested for the crime of 'Human Slavery or Trafficking,'" the narrative portion just below that reveals HSI had no evidence he was "a perpetrator, conspirator or accomplice of the alleged crimes described on the search warrant/complaint." Additionally, HSI Task Force Officer H. Carrasquillo writes that Santos was asked whether he had any legal status to reside in the United States — and after Santos replied, "No," he was immediately arrested.
The form I-213 itself is literally a "Record of Deportable/Inadmissible Alien," filled out by Homeland Security agents upon the arrest of a person with an undocumented immigration status, basically initiating the deportation process. It includes information on a person's criminal and immigration history, as well as personal data like date of birth, fingerprints, and health condition. It is not a report utilized for non-immigration-related criminal prosecutions.
Santos bail hearing was held at the US Citizen & Immigration Services building on Sansome Street in San Francisco on August 30, at which he appeared remotely by video monitor while jailed at the West County Detention Center in Richmond, California. His bond was set at $5,000, the bond intended to guarantee his appearance before an immigration judge at an as-yet-unspecified "removal proceeding." Five thousand would be a low bond if there were criminal charges filed related to human trafficking. The money was paid and Santos was freed that same day.
All of this underscores that while Santos' I-213 says that he was "arrested for the crime of 'Human Slavery or Trafficking,'" his arrest and detention were solely due to his immigration status. There is a possibility Santos might be able to achieve legal status down the road, but ICE is currently following their deportation playbook with him.
As an aside, it's worth pointing out that there are irregularities in Santos' I-213. For instance, the note about the crime Santos was arrested for was included in the "Previous Criminal History" section and given the date of 8/10/17. Santos was not arrested prior to the day of the West Oakland raid. Was the inclusion of that note under that heading, with that particular date, some sort of Homeland Security protocol for the I-213, or was it incompetence, deliberate prevarication, or a combination thereof? If taken literally by some future immigration judge, would it effect his chances of remaining in the United States?
The narrative section of the I-213 includes this patently false statement: "Santos Alberto, (Subject) an adult male citizen of Guatemala, was found at the residence searched where several victims of Human Trafficking were rescued." There was no "rescue" of victims, the day of the raid or before that, according to the family. No one has ever been to their house who didn't come of their own free will. They are not running a business that exploits migrants.
The only two people removed from the home by ICE on August 16 were Santos and Darwin, as documented by multiple media outlets present in the street during the raid. Santos, with no legal residency status, was transferred to West County Detention Center, where he was held for two weeks. Darwin, whose residency petition was already in progress, was lured on false pretenses to the Alameda County Family Justice Center on 27th Street. It's unclear why ICE did so, but it does allow them and OPD to disingenuously pretend that the raid benefited someone.
According to the family, Darwin was told by ICE agents interrogating him during the raid that if he went with them, no one in the house would be arrested and they would get him his papers, the legal asylum he has been seeking for years. Apparently, similar promises were made to other members of the household with outstanding residency petitions, but not those with U.S. citizenship. At the Family Justice Center, while two ICE agents waited outside, social service workers asked Darwin at least one question related to the ICE investigation. They offered him public services, including food stamps which he accepted, as well as alternative housing. Darwin told them that he wanted be with his family. The ICE agents drove Darwin to a street corner near his home and dropped him off. Of course, there has been no follow-up from ICE about papers or expedited immigration processing.
Not to overstate the matter, but it's flatly untrue that "several victims" were removed from the house. ICE's own I-213 on Santos declares that he "is not believed to be a victim," and Darwin voluntarily returned to his home after the ordeal, continuing to work in the family janitorial services business of his own volition. The only actual victim known thus far is Santos, arrested and jailed for nothing to do with ICE's supposed investigation, currently facing possible deportation.
A "collateral arrest" such as that of Santos is commonplace for the family-wrecking machine known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and increasingly so. ICE and its various tentacles such as HSI claim to be doing one thing, then snag unrelated people in the vicinity over immigration issues. And ICE is digging around in more places than ever. Fear of ICE has reached new heights as the agency stalks immigrants at courthouses, schools, and church homeless shelters, ICE's "sensitive locations" policy seeming to mean less than it ever did.
When San Francisco ICE spokesman James Schwab says of the West Oakland raid, “It’s not an immigration enforcement action," that doesn't really mean a whole lot considering ICE pulls anyone they want into their deportation dragnet at any time, even nurses who have lived in Oakland for decades.
Likewise, when Oakland police cooperated with the August ICE raid and defended themselves by claiming, "HSI is conducting a criminal investigation, not a civil immigration or deportation action," acting as if there is a bright line between the two that simply does not exist, they are conning you, and trying to slip past the Oakland city council members who voted to rescind the police department's authorization to work with ICE on immigration matters in July.
Everything ICE or HSI does is an immigration matter. Certainly, ICE has full access to whatever information on undocumented persons HSI is able to gather, and there is no reason to believe ICE won't use it to go after undocumented folks. Plus, with "collateral arrests," anyone ICE or HSI happens to bump into is fair game and Oakland police know this. There is no true separation between criminal and immigration enforcement at ICE. It's a ruse intended to weaken resistance to raids with resulting deportations.
Shamefully, Oakland's new police chief Anne Kirkpatrick continues with the lies about the raid, as recently as September 6 at a Town Hall organized by council member Abel Guillen, some of which was captured in the video above.
As if OPD's first smear of the family with the child sex trafficking accusation wasn't enough, or their second description of the investigation as having to do with the "human trafficking of juveniles in our city," when ICE has given no public indication as to the supposed crimes being investigated, Kirkpatrick described the matter at the town hall as involving a man who illegally "trafficked" workers into the country for his business, according to a report on the event by Darwin BondGraham. It's unclear whether she bothered to assert that this was an "alleged" crime when she addressed the matter, even though there were no charges filed for any such thing.
Is Kirkpatrick making it up as she goes along? Is she deliberately attempting to deceive the public and elected officials? Is ICE lying to her? What documentation or other assurances from ICE does she rely on? Regardless, what Kirkpatrick said is not true, as shown in Santo's I-213: on the day of his arrest, HSI had no evidence he was involved in the crimes described in the search warrant. And it is a bald-faced lie when Kirkpatrick categorically states, "Only one person has been charged with a crime and there is not a deportation matter in this case." There is absolutely *no* criminal charge. There *is* a deportation matter; it's the only tangible result of the raid at this point. And Santos has *not* been accused of or charged with trafficking anyone, except by her and OPD.
Kirkpatrick would like us all to believe that the ICE raid was beneficial when she speaks about services in the video — "they went and received services and then left" — as if multiple traumatized victims of something as horrible as "human slavery and trafficking" were saved and then provided with much-needed recovery services. The raid sounds so benign in her rendering of what happened. It's obvious Kirkpatrick feels compelled to pooh-pooh the controversy surrounding the raid in which OPD assisted, a raid that has resulted in real-life deportation proceedings.
But, pause for a moment and ponder the absurdity of what Oakland police chief Anne Kirkpatrick is implying. Santos was charged with human trafficking in her alternate universe, and Darwin was rescued from said trafficking and received services. Never mind that they are brothers who willingly live and work together. Kirkpatrick is asserting that one brother is charged with trafficking the other. It's nonsensical, even ignoring that the facts on which her story is built are false.
Who knows what will come of the supposed HSI investigation, but odds are it's not going to live up to the hype of "human trafficking of juveniles in our city" (kids in *our* city, dammit!!), as OPD claimed in their updated statement of August 16. The original, even more salacious press release said the raid was related to "child sex trafficking," which was dutifully amplified without question by corporate television news stations. It is altogether possible that HSI has little to nothing on this West Oakland family and the raid was at least partially conducted as a fishing expedition intended to dig up information on even more people they can stuff into their xenophobic deportation pipeline.
ICE is coming after sanctuary cities, as made plain in July by ICE enforcement director Thomas Homan when said that such cities are magnets for crime, a "criminal's best friend." Cracking down on so-called sanctuaries becomes easier when compliant police departments are willing to defy local public sentiment and the spirit of laws passed by elected officials. Both ICE's and OPD's statements claim some sort of false virtue by identifying the raid as criminally focused, OPD lying about the fact that a man with no criminal record is on the verge of having his life permanently disrupted, perhaps to face grievous violence back in Guatemala. Yet another family broken apart by ICE in the normal course of business.
One has to wonder at what level the cooperation between OPD and ICE is happening. Does HSI fire off a quick email claiming a coming raid is part of an investigation into "human trafficking of juveniles" and Oakland police snap into action at the designated time having done no due diligence on the matter? Or does the communication go deeper? Do older, previously unknown memorandum of understanding between the Oakland police and ICE essentially continue intact? How is it that public statements by both ICE and OPD line up so closely? How did Kirkpatrick know to play up the "victim services" angle?
What does it mean to be a sanctuary city when ICE arrests residents at will and Oakland police assist them in doing so? Is Mayor Libby Schaaf satisfied with her new pick as police chief lying about ICE raids at town halls? Is the Oakland city council going to stand by while ICE carries out collateral arrests, or worse, with the cooperation of OPD?
Numerous lies. Many questions. Oakland Privacy is demanding answers. How about you?
For more information on the August 16 West Oakland raid, please see the following links.
Is OPD Still Cooperating with Deportations?
An Open Letter to Oakland's Elected Officials from Oakland Privacy Working Group
ICE Raids Home in West Oakland with OPD Assist
ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Unit Raids Oakland Home, Arrests One