Sierra Jenkins / Thursday, Feb. 9 @ 7:19 a.m. / LoCO Video Reports
(VIDEO) Fear, Harassment, and Heartache: Latino Organization ‘Centro del Pueblo’ Speaks Out after Local Law Enforcement Collaborates with ICE
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This week the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — known as “ICE” — assisted the Humboldt County Drug Task Force in two hefty drug busts. Just knowing that federal immigration agents were in town sent shock waves through the Latino community and caused fear that local undocumented immigrants could face deportation.
So in an effort to express concerns, the Humboldt County Latino organization Centro del Pueblo held a powerful and emotional press conference Wednesday on the steps of Fortuna City Hall.
“People are terrified, my neighbors are terrified, my community is terrified and I think as a nation we’re terrified, said Fortuna resident, Xochitl Cabrera Sanchez. “It’s a tough time to be undocumented in this country.”
Centro del Pueblo says they understand the need for multiple agencies to conduct drug-related operations but are disturbed that the county would collaborate with a federal immigration agency.
As the Outpost reported on Tuesday, Bryan Quenell of the Drug Task Force says the ICE agents were only present to provide translation, not to take immigration enforcement action.
He added on Wednesday, ICE was already present in the area before assisting the task force and “we have multiple federal agencies that come to Humboldt County, ICE is just another.”
James Schwab, a spokesman with the agency could not specifically state why ICE was here, but said firmly over the phone, “We do not conduct raids. We’re not here to disturb people or cause fear. All operations are targeted and a majority are crime-related.”
However, Centro del Pueblo is not relieved by these justifications and believes ICE will arrest any undocumented immigrant they happen to come in contact with. That’s why the organization will now move forward with pressuring elected officials to create a policy prohibiting local law enforcement and institutions from collaborating with federal immigration agents.
In addition to the fears of ICE, members of Centro del Pueblo gave the small crowd a sobering reality of what is like to be a Latino immigrant. They also expressed how they’re plagued by the grips racism on a daily basis right in Humboldt County. In this LoCO Video Report, we hear from those members.