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Immigration Raids Have Berkeley on High Alert

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By Nevin Long

Protesters gathered at the front of Berkeley City Hall late Friday afternoon to protest the detention of several undocumented immigrants earlier in the day.

Demonstrators were angered that Berkeley officials had not done more to secure the city’s immigrant population against stricter enforcement of immigration law by the Trump administration. The last minute “emergency” picket was largely organized by members of the local activist group By Any Means Necessary.

The group of around a dozen picketers gathered around 4:00 p.m. carrying signs reading “ICE OUT OF BERKELEY” and “Berkeley is a sanctuary.” Passersby gave thumbs up and honked car horns in approval. The demonstration was peaceful, drawing little attention from police and dispersed about an hour and a half later.

Small protest in front of Berkeley City Hall following March 16 immigration arrest and detainments in Berkeley, Calif. Photo by Nevin Long.

Three people were detained and at least one arrested by Homeland Security Investigations just before noon at a Parker Street housing complex, the Daily Californian reported, a move which caused BAMN to mobilize via social media.

Berkeley is a sanctuary city, but as late as 10:00 p.m. Friday evening no comment on the raids was forthcoming from the city website, the Berkeley Police Department or Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s office.

Arreguin had been vocal in his opposition to past Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raids. In February, he openly supported Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s warning of impending ICE activity.

“Thank you Libby Schaaf for your strong leadership for justice and sanctuary for Oakland and East Bay residents,” Arreguin said in a tweet.

But Schaaf’s actions did not go without criticism from Washington. At a press conference earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was incensed.

“How dare you?” Sessions said. “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officials to promote a radical open borders agenda?”

Yvette Felarca of By Any Means Necessary gives interview during small protest following March 16 immigration arrest and detainments in Berkeley, Calif. Photo by Nevin Long.

Several of the demonstrators found Arreguin’s silence troubling, and BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca went so far as to speculate that he may have known in advance of HSI’s plans but remained quiet after witnessing the blowback against Schaaf.

“We haven’t heard anything from [Arreguin] yet,” Felarca said, “but it’s shameful.”

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