End the Criminalization of Immigrants

The following letter was written by members of DÍGAME on behalf of Sanctuary Santa Cruz. After the Santa Cruz Sentinel chose not to publish it, it was submitted to the UCSC student newspaper City on a Hill Press, where it appeared on March 9.

Early in the morning of February 7, ICE agents stopped a couple driving their three children to daycare near Watsonville. The couple thought it was a routine traffic stop, but to their shock, the husband was detained and is now in custody, awaiting deportation proceedings. According to AttorneyDoug Keegan of the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project, the man has no criminal record.

The assault on this family and on the entire community didn’t stop there, however. A few hours later, in response to questions about the incident, a Watsonville City Council member posted on Facebook that they had been in contact with the Watsonville Police Department and that  the arrested man was “a member of MS13.” The post was removed later that day, but the damage had been done. The wife of the arrested man is asking for an apology.

Sanctuary Santa Cruz calls on people of good will to put a stop to the insidious social environment that criminalizes  immigrants, the poor, and people of color. We may not have immediate access to the levers of power that would stop tyrants in their path, but we do have the power to be ethical and responsible to each other, and to hold our local elected officials to account.  We need to know that our officials will not be duped by the propaganda being pumped out of Washington, and that they will serve all the people in our communities. And at this juncture, we need to come forward and speak up in defense of our community–our friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors.

We also need to educate each other about how ICE is operating in their war on immigrant communities.  First, under Trump, ICE is sweeping up people without warrants, both “targets and non-targets” as ICE agents put it last February in internal emails.  This has resulted in “collateral arrests” of people who are then investigated to see if they can be deported. The biggest increase in ICE arrests last year was of people with no criminal record at all. Second, when ICE publishes the results of their arrests, they highlight the few “egregious” felony cases, and blend these with other “prior criminal records,”  the bulk of which are for DUIs, drugs, immigration, and general traffic offenses.  In reality, crime is actually lower in immigrant populations than in native-born groups. Given the evidence, current federal policy is simply racist persecution.

The effects of this on immigrant communities–or people who may be mistaken as immigrants due to their ethnicity–is immense. Commando-style neighborhood raids and covert patrols create the leading edge of the assault; the longer-term effect is a kind of  “toxic stress.”  Under a cloud of grief, fear, and suspicion, families retrieve loved ones from detention centers, seek legal and financial help to pay for these disasters, and try to keep their heads up in public , never knowing who actually believes the lies being told about them.

Here’s how authoritarian systems work: 1) they distort reality, creating fear and hatred through propaganda; 2) they promise to protect people from the imagined threat they have created; 3) they arbitrarily reach into people’s lives and violate their rights; 4) they close channels and spaces, creating silence and division among those who believe the promises, those who know better, and those who retreat in an attempt to survive the reign of terror.

Let’s be clear: ICE is not coming to our region to protect us. It’s coming to undermine the sanctuary status of our cities and county, to pit us against one another. It’s here to terrorize, plain and simple.

Sanctuary Santa Cruz is collection of projects aimed at making our county a welcoming place for all of its residents.  Please contact us if you need help, or if you want to help: sanctuary.sc.contact@gmail.com.

Rapid response networks denounce due process violations by ICE in Northern California

As members of rapid response networks, we are deeply disturbed by the deportation tactics that limit detainees’ access to legal representation and collectively undermine their due process rights.

We have documented the following incidents and are continuing to investigate:

  • On Wednesday February 28, 2018 ICE refused to provide attorneys who visited 630 Sansome Street with information about specific people it had detained or general updates about the ongoing deportation actions.
  • ICE transferred people to detention facilities outside Northern California, posing significant barriers to access by both attorneys and family members.
  • ICE arrested and then rapidly deported several people, in some cases within hours, leaving inadequate time for response by families or attorneys. One man was arrested on Wednesday morning February 28th in Napa, and was on his way out of the country by 5 pm that afternoon.
  • ICE pressured detainees into waiving their rights and signing deportation documents without allowing them to consult with pro bono attorneys who were available. A man arrested in Merced County was told he would not be able to talk to his family unless he agreed to sign a voluntary departure notice.
  • ICE used its Northern California headquarters at 630 Sansome Street as a processing center on Sunday, February 25th despite that it was not open to the public and attorneys were denied requests to access detainees.

These alarming tactics escalate  ICE’s use of psychological intimidation.  This already deeply troubled agency is further limiting  transparency, opening the door to abuses, pressuring people into waiving their constitutional rights, and undermining due process.

The purpose of our local networks is to provide legal support to anyone in our communities who ICE detains. When the federal government denies vital information and access to legal representatives, that threatens civil liberties for all people.

Community groups across the state have raised their voices to demand a halt to ICE’s abuses of power. We further call on ICE to provide complete information about those arrested in our communities, return all detainees to local jurisdictions to ensure legal access and family support, and to uphold every person’s due process rights.

Rapid Response Networks

Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership
Contra Costa Immigrant Rights Alliance
FUEL Sacramento Rapid Response Network
Marin Rapid Response Network
Monterey County Rapid Response Network
North Bay Rapid Response Network (Sonoma and Napa Counties)
Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network
San Francisco Rapid Response Network
San Mateo Rapid Response Network
Santa Clara County Rapid Response Network
Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN)
Valley Watch Network
Your Allied Rapid Response (Santa Cruz)

How You Can Help Undocumented Youth & the Santa Cruz Dreamer Project

  • Petition: Dream Act Now!
  • Congress: Pass the Dream Act
  • Help Youth Keep Fighting

Host a Phone Bank

Email sanctuary.sc.contact@gmail.com if you can help host a phone bank in your home or other location of your choosing. Instead of just calling our local congress members, we can call voters in other districts to call their representatives in support of the Dream Act. Training provided!

Join Santa Cruz Dreamer Project Email List

On Social Media

Like the Santa Cruz Dreamer Project on Facebook:

Update your Facebook profile picture with a frame from United We Dream, and follow these national organizations working for a Dream Act:

United We Dream

The Seed Project



Upcoming Events: Defend the Dream

January 15, Martin Luther King Day, begins a week of action to fight for the rights of all immigrants, but especially the 1,700 Dreamers living in Santa Cruz county.

In December, Congress voted to deport immigrant youth by failing to pass a Dream Act. With every day that passes, more and more youth are losing their protections under DACA.

Join together with Sanctuary and concerned community members to send a clear message to Congress: No Dream, No Deal. We need a clean Dream Act now.

Follow Santa Cruz Dreamers in Washington DC On Social Media

Like and follow the Santa Cruz Dreamer Project on Facebook for on-the-spot updates from the SC Dream Team in Washington DC!

March With Sanctuary Santa Cruz

 Martin Luther King March
January 15, 2018 9 am
March forms at Cedar and Cathcart. Look for the Sanctuary banner!

Santa Cruz Women’s March
January 20, 2018 11am
March forms at Locust and Pacific St. Look for the Sanctuary banner!

Phone Bank for a Clean Dream Act

Congressional staff members have confirmed that calls to Congress-members from their constituents have the greatest impact on their decision making. Join us to make calls to voters to ask them to call their Congressional Representative to pass the DREAM Act. You’ll need to bring a phone and laptop or tablet. Come for an hour, make some calls- you don’t have to stay the whole time!

Sign up to Phone Bank



Sanctuary SC Nominated for Scott Kennedy “Drawing the Line” Award from Resource Center for Nonviolence

The Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) will grant the Scott Kennedy Drawing the Line Award at the RCNV Annual Dinner, October 13, 2017 from 5 to 9 pm, at Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High Street, Santa Cruz. Sanctuary Santa Cruz is honored to be among the other nominees for this year’s award.

Sanctuary Santa Cruz is being recognized for organizing community support for our immigrant neighbors threatened with deportation. Sanctuary Santa Cruz was formed by and for the whole Santa Cruz community to support those neighbors, friends and fellow workers who face discrimination and harassment.

Past recipients of RCNV’s Scott Kennedy Drawing the Line Award have included the Day Worker Center, Brown Berets, Beach Flats Community Garden, Freedom Sleepers, Peace United Church of Christ and its 2015 BDS conference, and war resisters.

The Drawing the Line Award was initiated in the 1980’s by RCNV’s co-founder Scott Kennedy to celebrate nonviolent action in the face of social coercions and laws that ask us to violate our deepest values and spirit. The anarchist philosopher Paul Goodman called these “free actions, actions from our deepest nature.”

Paul Goodman wrote his essay, Reflections on Drawing the Line, to call attention to moments in our lives when we resist “self-betrayal on some concrete issue, that inwardly one knows to be crucial, that unless resisted would break the spirit and destroy integrity.” Goodman observed, “Our organized style of society has yearly become more relentless, and young people need more encouragement to resist it. We must, in small groups, draw the line and try action more directly satisfactory to our deep nature.”

For tickets to the Awards Dinner, contact the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

RCNV: Office phone: 831-423-1626. Cell phone: 831-251-4833.

Governor Signs Bill Making CA a Sanctuary State

Governor Jerry has signed Brown SB 54!

The California Values Act is now the law. Santa Cruz is a Sanctuary City in a Sanctuary County in a Sanctuary State!

Now it’s time for us to make sure our local officials are prepared to keep ICE away from our schools, colleges, universities, churches, courthouses, civic buildings, hospitals, medical facilities, parks, community centers, and jails.
It’s up to the rest of us to confront them on the streets.
ICE will keep trying to terrorize our neighborhoods and abduct our neighbors, you can count on it.
But we can organize now better than ever to show them they are not welcome here, and they cannot prey on us without being resisted.


CA Assembly passes SB 54, “Sanctuary State” Law

SB 54, the bill to limit local and state law enforcement cooperation with ICE, has passed the CA Assembly!
We must continue to fight to keep ICE completely out of our communities and our jails, but this bill represents significant progress!


Upcoming Family Preparedness Workshops

We are calling on all trained volunteers to register and attend one or all of the upcoming Family Preparedness Workshops.

We need volunteers to assist families in filling out the Childcare Safety Plan.

Contact us for dates, locations, and link to registration form

Families who are at risk of their loved ones being detained by ICE agents preying on our communities need to have a clear written plan for the care of children if something bad were to happen to their parents or caregivers. We invite any parent in this position to attend our workshops to learn how to make a Childcare Safety Plan. We will have legal experts and trained volunteers on hand to help explain the various child custody options, and help fill out this important document. Family Preparedness Workshops are free of charge and open to all.

Not a trained Family Preparedness volunteer, but want to become one?

If you are interested in becoming a Family Preparedness volunteer, attend the upcoming Train-the-Trainer Workshop:

Sunday, Aug 20, 2017 from 12-1:30pm, Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High Street, Santa Cruz in the Fellowship Hall.

For more information and to RSVP for the Training, please contact Tonje Switzer at Community Bridges, 831-688-8840 X 208 or tonjes@cbridges.org.

Sponsored by Proyecto Plan Familiar, Monarch Services (Servicios Monarca) Community Bridges (Puentes de la Communidad), Sanctuary Santa Cruz, and Community Action board of Santa Cruz County (CAB).



6 ICE Officers Ambush Man Outside SC County Courthouse

Sanctuary has received a report that 6 ICE officers picked up a man as he was leaving the courthouse. If you have any information about the incident, please call (831) 239-4289 so Sanctuary can be in contact with the family and find out if they are safe.

This incident was witnessed yesterday, Tuesday, July 25, by Alex Calvo, Court Executive Officer, as reported by Angela Chesnut, a senior analyst for Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairperson John Leopold. Apparently, the person disappeared by ICE yesterday was an undocumented immigrant who had just emerged from the court building after a court appearance of some kind. It seems ICE was waiting for him outside because, in keeping with Santa Cruz County’s Sanctuary policy, Calvo will not allow ICE agents access into the court buildings to arrest people.

It would be helpful for citizens to demand that County Sheriff’s deputies should proactively confront ICE agents setting up ambushes like this at public buildings. We absolutely don’t have to accept this, and our Sheriff has the power to intervene, but he needs to be moved by the will of the People.

Please submit a comment at the Sheriff’s Office website, or call the Office at (831) 454-7600 to urge Sheriff John Hart to do more to protect our undocumented neighbors and friends!

BREAKING: ICE arrests in Santa Cruz County

Sanctuary Santa Cruz received information yesterday and today that ICE agents operating in Santa Cruz County have arrested two of our neighbors.

We’re informed that the first arrest happened yesterday at the subject’s workplace in Westside Santa Cruz; apparently the man had previously been arrested by local police on charges of being in possession of an open container, and taking a set of pots from the sidewalk.

The second arrest reportedly happened this morning at 5:30 from the subject’s home in Watsonville. This man had been deported in 2010, and returned; reportedly he has sole custody of his two teenaged children.

It’s possible more arrests have taken place, but these two families had our red emergency know-your-rights cards with them, and thus were able to report the incidents to us. We believe both men were taken to the San Francisco Immigration Court, or the Richmond ICE detention center; we’re not sure which.

Emotional and financial support as well as legal representation will be needed in both cases.

I’m making a call to all volunteers to print red cards from our website, and distribute them widely where you live or work, where you go for lunch or dinner.

Download cards here: https://sanctuary-sc.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/SSCRedcard4-17-17.pdf

I’m also asking everyone to be on high alert, to help resist these incursions by federal agents into our Sanctuary territory, taking prisoners among some of our most vulnerable neighbors, splitting families apart, and sending waves of fear throughout our immigrant communities. We need to stand as one in solidarity, in every neighborhood. Santa Cruz is a Sanctuary city in a Sanctuary county; we shouldn’t allow this to happen without determined resistance. 

Ni uno más!