San Jose city officials and community leaders came together Wednesday at City Hall to emphasize their support for the immigrant community in Santa Clara County in response to recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid threats.
Zulma Maciel, director of the city's Office of Immigrant Affairs, discussed resources available to undocumented immigrants in the area in light of rumors of widespread immigration raids planned across Northern California.
On Jan. 10, 21 people were arrested and ordered to appear in immigration court throughout four Bay Area counties when ICE agents raided multiple 7-Eleven chain locations.
Maciel said it was understandable that undocumented immigrants are now fearful that they may fall victim to an ICE raid and their families could be separated. Because of this concern, the city of San Jose and Santa Clara County have collaborated with volunteer organizations to form a Rapid Response Network, according to Maciel.
The network is one of nine rapid response networks in Northern California.
"We are not alone in this work," Maciel said.
The network's main goal is to inform residents of their rights to protect them from unlawful arrest and ensure due process.
A 24/7 hotline is available at (408) 290-1144 to report ICE activity in the South Bay as a part of the network. According to Maciel, the hotline is run by more than 600 volunteers.
Anyone can call the hotline and when they do, four things will happen: the volunteer reminds the caller of their rights, sends a rapid responder to report ICE agents, sends an immigration attorney to meet with the caller as soon as possible and activates a family support team for those related to the detainee.
"We are building a wall of resistance against hate and the tactic of fear mongering that this administration has continued to employ to terrorize our most vulnerable communities," Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco said.
City Councilmember Raul Peralez gave tips for employers who could be approached by ICE agents asking for a specific employee: make sure that ICE has a warrant that is signed by a judge with a specific name and location, do not lie or hide the individual, ask them to walk out to a public waiting space, and immediately call the emergency hotline.
Employees should submit emergency contacts to their employers in case that situation ever was to happen, according to Peralez.
"San Jose has always been a city of immigrants, and it is because of this that our city has thrived," Peralez said. "We will not allow our immigrant families to be torn apart without a fight."
Representative of groups including People Acting in Community Together, VietUnity and Congregation Shir Hadash spoke on behalf of their organizations and how they are being affected by the threat of deportation.
Rabbi Melanie Aron of Congregation Shir Hadash spoke about how the Jewish community is stepping up and advocating for undocumented immigrants because they remember when their refugees were not permitted to get through the borders when they needed to most and people helped them.
"We are fortunate to live in a county where the inter-religious community has joined together in a solidarity network to protect immigrants," Aron said. "I would like to encourage us to make our actions the most effective to live out the teachings of our various faith traditions."
People who want more information about resources for immigrants in Santa Clara County, particularly the Rapid Response Hotline, can check out their website.