Bay Area Protests Trump's Immigration Orders

San Francisco groups rallied outside City Hall on Jan. 25 in protest of President Donald Trump's executive orders regarding immigration enforcement. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

Bay Area cities are preparing for a fight against increased immigration enforcement ordered by President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Hundreds of people rallied in Martinez and San Francisco calling for the protection of immigrants' rights.

About an hour after President Donald Trump signed the executive orders, about 100 people protested in front of San Francisco's City Hall.

"I have a message for the bully in chief. We will fight you in the streets, we will fight you in the courts, we will fight you in our workplace, we will fight you on legislative floors, we will fight you in our churches, we will fight you in our neighborhoods, we will fight you in our union halls. You better be ready for a fight because we are protecting our sanctuary city and our immigrant communities by any means necessary," said San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

Saira Hussain, an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, said that the president is going to have a legal battle on his hands.

"These immigration holds are not backed by a judicial authorization," she said. "They violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, and soon after we passed that law, federal courts found immigration holds to be unconstitutional."

Nancy Ybarra, 27, of Richmond protested the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office policy of cooperating with federal immigration agents by calling immigrants on probation in for meetings, then handing them over to federal custody. "We're asking them to stop collaborating with ICE ," she said. "What we really want is for people to be protected, regardless of if they're undocumented or not."
Nancy Ybarra, 27, of Richmond, protested Wednesday in Martinez. "We're asking them to stop collaborating with ICE," she said. "What we really want is for people to be protected, regardless of if they're undocumented or not." (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Other advocates argued that Trump's policies make the country less secure because they cause a rift between law enforcement and local communities.

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"The safety of people in my community is now at risk, and the already fractured relationship between law enforcement and communities like mine is about to get worse," said the Rev. Richard Smith, vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in the Mission.

Mayors from Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley issued a joint statement proclaiming their commitment to sanctuary policies.

In Martinez, a coalition of local groups held a previously planned rally to demand that the sheriff stop using probation meetings to deport immigrants. A report in the East Bay Express found that the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office staff would call immigrants serving probation in for administrative meetings, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would be ready to arrest them and begin deportation proceedings.

Advocates say that violates California’s Trust Act, which shields law enforcement from complying with ICE requests to hold someone until an agent can arrive.

Juan José Lozano Hernandez, of Richmond, attended a protest at the Contra Costa Administrative Building in Martinez on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. The demonstration was organized by the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition (CCCRJC) and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) to demand that the Sheriff's Office stop cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "We are here so the county police are not allied with ICE," he said in Spanish.
Juan José Lozano Hernandez, of Richmond, attended a protest at the Contra Costa County Administrative Building. "We are here so the county police are not allied with ICE," he said in Spanish. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Melvin Willis, a newly elected member of the Richmond City Council, was at the Martinez rally, alongside organizers from Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

“They actively have a contract with ICE,” he said. “They were ambushing people who were undocumented in Contra Costa County.”

Sheriff David Livingston told protesters that he will follow the law. If ICE asks him to hold someone, the answer is no, he said.

"However, if they make a request that we notify them when an inmate is going to be released, we comply with that part of the order," he said. "They are free to talk to an immigrant only when they are being released — only when they are being released — we won’t detain them a minute longer."

Candelaria Martinez, 49, of Richmond, said she wants to see the sheriff respect immigrants.

“It’s sad to see people get deported,” she said in Spanish. “We only want them to respect us.”

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Alex Emslie, Lisa Pickoff-White and Julie Small contributed to this report.

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