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  • Immigrant rights activists were outraged to hear that their police department defied its pledge to not comply with ICE.

    Immigrant rights activists were outraged to hear that their police department defied its pledge to not comply with ICE. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 February 2017

Two California police departments said they were misinformed by ICE authorities to help them detain undocumented immigrants.

Two Bay Area, California cities claimed that the Department of Homeland Security misled them in conducting a series of raids that they thought were against a Mara Salvatrucha gang but was in fact against undocumented immigrants.

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"I was never informed that these 'detentions' would include transporting these individuals to another county to be processed at a federal facility, nor was I told that these detentions would result solely because of questionable immigration status," said Santa Cruz Police Chief Ken Vogel on Thursday in a tense exchange with the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He blamed ICE for deteriorating the community’s trust of the police, which had pledged not to cooperate with ICE on deportations since Santa Cruz, which has a nearly 20 percent Latino population as of the 2010 census, considers itself a sanctuary city.

Daly City, just south of San Francisco, also claimed that a raid on immigrants were falsely characterized as criminal, reported ABC on Friday, though the number detained was not clear. Its vice mayor, though, will try to make Daly City more of a “safe haven” — without fully becoming a sanctuary city to avoid cut funds.

In Santa Cruz, 11 were detained on Feb. 13 and one remains in custody in an investigation that began five years ago after a tip on gang members selling drugs. Immigrant rights groups organized an emergency meeting the day after to deal with the panic that they said was spreading through the city.

A DHS spokesperson retorted that Vogel’s allegations were “completely false, reckless, and disturbing" since the Santa Cruz officers were told that those detained would be questioned on their “identities and case histories.” He also scolded the Santa Clara police for criticizing a federal department.

Vogel, though, maintained that his staff had already left when the immigration questioning was underway and that “Homeland Security officials have not been completely forthcoming to us with information about this."

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