Federal immigration officials were in the Novato area Thursday, and they detained one man who had apparently just finished dropping off his child at school, according to community groups in Marin County.
It reportedly was a targeted enforcement of a man who was a longtime Marin County resident, the groups said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed it was a targeted operation, saying ICE deportation officers identified 35-year-old Hilcias David Garcia Vicente before he arrived at the school but did not approach or take him into custody until he left and was well out of sight of the campus. They say he was deported to Guatemala in 2007 and illegally re-entered the United States.
Novato Unified School District Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said it happened too close to Loma Verde Elementary School. He said he just wants students and parents to feel safe.
"We don’t care if kids are documented or undocumented," he said. "We’re here to educate all of our kids. When something like this happens on the way to school or from school, that’s going to make parents afraid."
One parent whose daughter attends Loma Verde said they saw ICE enforcement operations in the neighborhood.
"I saw their vest and also it says ICE," parent George Arias. "I saw clearly. What we saw is that people from the ICE, they were talking to this guy and probably they took him."
Canal Alliance in San Rafael said it received calls from concerned residents, and workers at the nonprofit said they want to ensure people know their rights.
"Whether it was targeted, whether it was a raid, to me it makes no difference," said Lucia Martel Dow of Canal Alliance. "The result remains the same; this is an attack on our families."
The operation comes just weeks after high-profile immigration raids across California, including several in Bay Area cities.