It’s time to take sanctuary into our own hands.

Left Party Statement on ICE raids in San Francisco


It’s time to take sanctuary into our own hands.

No one should be taken!


On the morning of Thursday, January 26th, 2017, minor panic and turmoil struck parts of the San Francisco immigrant community when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocked on the doors of El Buen Samaritano: a family resource center, housing complex, and hub of community organizing. The agents presented arrest notices for two people living in the complex, demanding they be turned over.

Staff immediately responded in defense of the building, refusing to open the doors — a true act of sanctuary in a city with superficial Sanctuary City Status.

lightning-bolt-squareWe need more brave actions to defend communities and refuse to cooperate with ICE.
 Even in California, the birthplace of the Sanctuary City policy — officially originating in Los Angeles in 1979 — we have seen the catastrophic impacts of raids, detentions, and deportations long before Trump. Indeed, former President Obama earned the nickname “Deporter In Chief” for deporting 2.5 million people under his administration: more than every single US President of the 20th Century combined.

This morning’s actions provoked unrest and anxiety as rumor spread that Trump had already started his offensive to ramp up attacks on immigrants. However, for Black, Brown, incarcerated, and undocumented communities this threat is not new, but merely an amplification of state terror that has been continuously happening under Democrats and Republicans alike.

It turns out that this morning’s ICE visit to El Buen Samaritano is not yet an escalation under Trump’s new administration (which many feared involved raiding the entire community center), but merely business as usual targeting numerous residents in this so-called Sanctuary City.unnamed-6-2

What this morning’s event clarifies is that the current immigration system that criminalizes and terrorizes immigrant communities could get worse under this new administration — a strong likelihood given Trump’s most recent executive order to hire 10,000 additional ICE agents to perform raids across the country. Therefore, it is imperative that we prepare our own community defenses for all emergency scenarios: even supposedly typical cases of ICE interference and repression.

For too long, progressive cities like San Francisco have patted themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum (or less) to defend us. Now is not the time for nice, lofty words, promises, and symbolic resolutions. Now is the time for specific plans and actions protecting all San Francisco residents, regardless of documentation status.

  • Unions, churches, and community organizations — especially City Departments and all groups dedicated to immigrant rights defense — should immediately open their doors and defend the immigrant community, following the brave example set by El Buen Samaritano staff.
  • The SF Mayor and the SF Board of Supervisors should immediately declare this city truly off-limits to ICE.
  • The SF Sheriff should be recalled in light of her commitment to support ICE actions. A pro-ICE Sheriff is a dangerous liability that completely undermines the validity of a Sanctuary City.

Social workers attending to the needs of immigrant communities have been diligently doing everything they can to provide relief from persecution. Now is the time to look even deeper, and be clear and unintimidated about the systemic changes that are critically needed.

All of us should follow the example of the El Buen Samaritano workers by not allowing ICE to go any further. It’s time to turn this around by taking sanctuary into our own hands. No one should be taken!


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