'Everybody is warning everybody' San Francisco immigrant communities on edge ahead of planned ICE raids

ByLiz Kreutz via KGO logo
Saturday, June 22, 2019
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San Francisco's immigrant communities are on edge ahead of the planned deportation raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's immigrant communities are on edge ahead of the planned deportation raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Everybody is warning everybody on Facebook and all social media," Aisha Hart, a San Francisco resident whose boyfriend is undocumented, said Friday evening. "All I see is my friends posting, like, please be careful, they start Sunday."

RELATED: Gov. Newsom, Bay Area leaders respond to proposed ICE Raids in SF, other major cities

Liz Lucas is a friend of Hart's who is undocumented. She immigrated to the U.S. 25 years ago when she was four-years-old.

"I am," Lucas said when asked if she was scared about the planned raids, "But...they have been doing this to us from the beginning and they want us to be scared."

Lucas views President Trump's deportation threats as a fear tactic. But for her nine-year-old daughter, Elaida, it feels very real.

"I was about to cry that my mom might leave or they might take my mom," Elaida said. "I'm just really scared and I don't want my mom to go away because she was born in Mexico, and if they take away my mamma I will miss her so much."

San Francisco is one of 10 U.S. cities that ICE plans to target as part of a mass round-up of families living in the country illegally.

The announcement by the Trump administration came just days after the President's re-election launch, as well as a tweet where he threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

Across the city, immigration advocates are preparing for the raids. Jilma Meneses, the CEO of Catholic Charities San Francisco, said her phone has been ringing constantly since reports of the raids broke.

"The community at large and certainly many of our clients are afraid," Meneses exclaimed. "What we're trying to tell them is they have to prepare. They have to be calm. They have to be courageous. But most importantly, they have to be prepared."

Meneses said that includes coming up with a plan if a family member is detained and also knowing your rights.

"If a person is in their home, they don't have to let them in," Meneses explained. "They don't have to let ICE in without a valid warrant."

In a statement Friday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the planned raids "unconscionable" and said the plan is just to "inflict as much fear and pain as possible."

While Oakland and San Jose are not listed as targeted cities, both Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo weighed in, too.

"The President's announcement does absolutely nothing to further the safety of this city or of this country," Liccardo said.

But not everyone agrees. Howard Epstein, the Vice Chairman of San Francisco's Republican Party, supports the President's plan.

"Sometimes you have to enforce the law," Epstein said. "And he doesn't want people coming into the country not being able to make a living and being on the dole."