At dawn on March 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the low-income Canal neighborhood of San Rafael in Marin County, California. The raids, part of ICE’s national “Operation Return to Sender,” were supposedly based on 30 warrants for people who had prior deportation orders. The ICE agents returned to the neighborhood early on March 7 and carried out more arrests; at least one similar raid took place in nearby Novato over March 6-7. ICE agents apparently returned to San Rafael for the third consecutive day on Mar. 8 to make further arrests. San Rafael police were notified that ICE would be making arrests near the city’s downtown area between 7 and 8 AM, said police spokesperson Margo Rohrbacher. Some of the immigrants may have been deported the same day they were arrested, an immigration official said on March 8. (Marin Independent Journal, Novato, March 7, 8, 9)
Federal officials declined to reveal the number of people arrested in the raids until pressed by the office of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who sent an aide to meet with ICE. Congressional officials said on March 15 that ICE had arrested 65 people in Marin County during the week of March 5, and had deported 23 of them. “For every one [with a warrant] they picked up, 12 [were arrested who] are not named on the warrant,” said Canal Alliance Executive Director Tom Wilson. That means it’s more about people not named in the warrant,” he said. “That’s really scary—that tells me they’re just using the warrant as a way to get in a door into a house.” (MIJ, March 15)
Rey Reyes said his 7-year-old nephew, US-born citizen Kevin Reyes, was with his family in an apartment where officers made the arrests. “They put handcuffs on him; he is only 7,” Reyes said through an interpreter. At Bahia Vista Elementary School, Principal Juan Rodriguez reported that two students were separated from their parents because of the raid, and that 77 children did not come to school on March 7, likely out of fear. On a typical day, eight to 10 students are absent. Rodriguez said many of the missing students returned to class the next day, March 8, leaving only 11 absent. School representatives and community members have been meeting with roughly 20 children directly affected by the raids, and have been escorting students from their front doors to the classroom, Rodriguez said. (MIJ, March 7, 8) San Rafael Superintendent of Schools Laura Alvarenga said many San Rafael teachers rode the bus with their students on March 7 to help reassure them. (MIJ, March 14)
In the pre-dawn hours of March 9, about 75 people held a three-hour candlelight vigil in the Canal neighborhood, spreading out in teams at several intersections in order to protest the ICE raids, show support for immigrant residents, and witness and document any further early-morning ICE actions. (MIJ, March 9, 10; Canal Alliance website) Rev. Carol Hovis, executive director of the Marin Interfaith Council, which organized the protest, said the vigilers would return at 5 AM. every weekday morning over the subsequent week. (MIJ, March 9)
Later in the afternoon on March 9, more than 100 people chanted and held signs at another protest in San Rafael against the raids. (MIJ, March 10) On March 12, hundreds of people again protested the raids with a march from St. Raphael’s Church in San Rafael to a “know-your-rights” meeting at Pickleweed Park Community Center. (Report posted on Canal Alliance website, March 13; KGO News, San Francisco, March 13)
From Immigration News Briefs, March 18
See our last post on the immigration crackdown.