Agents from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched raids of Canal neighborhood homes at 5 am Thursday May 22, 2008, only two days after Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey held a hearing on the impact of immigration enforcement on children. It’s reported that 17 people were taken, including the father of a Bahia Vista student who was due to have cancer surgery today. His young son was terrified that his father was going to die.
Youth from Canal Alliance’s afterschool programs who were waiting for an early morning school bus called Director JuanCarlos Arauz to report seeing a “command post” at Mi Tierra Market and ICE vehicles driving up and down neighborhood streets. Youth text messaged friends and families to spread the news while others ran home. News traveled quickly. Many residents kept their doors closed to the intense pounding of ICE officials on their doors, following protocols learned at recent immigration trainings sponsored by Canal Alliance and other agencies.
Some witnesses reported that residents were driven off in SUVs, vans, and station wagons that were unmarked with no license plates. Officers were also seen in civilian clothing, though some did have on ICE/Police jackets. No members of San Rafael police were present - ICE had notified them in advance of the raid. Canal Alliance attorneys are trying to gain access to meet with or at least get the names of those who have been detaineed.
Seventy nine children at Bahia Vista Elementary, sixty five at San Pedro Elementary, and fifty three at Davidson Middle School stayed home today, fearful at what might happen to them or their parents. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. San Pedro cancelled their End-of-School Year Open House, but Bahia Vista will still hold theirs in solidarity with families.
Bahia Vista Principal Juan Rodriguez saw ICE rounding up people on the children’s route to walk to school. Innocent, legal children witnessed their friends and families being hauled off in unmarked SUV’s. Children are terrified that their parents will be taken and that they too are being watched.
What you can do to help:
- Email or call local media and government officials to let them know you want ICE raids to stop.
- Help families who are affected by making a donation to the Emergency Fund at: Canal Alliance, 91 Larkspur Street, San Rafael, CA 4901 or 415 454-2640
- Access resources related to immigration.