City of Berkeley will not hold illegal immigrants for minor offenses

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Berkeley Police Department announced Tuesday that it will not honor its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold illegal immigrants who are being detained for minor offenses.

At a special meeting of Berkeley City Council, Police Chief Michael Meehan clarified that a person would have to be determined suspicious — involved in activities like item intrusion, manipulating or defacing infrastructure, theft, vandalism or cyber attack — to be detained.

The specific terms have yet to be determined. The council decided to send the policy to the city manager to review what qualifies as a criminal act, after which it will be presented to the council again at a meeting in September.

“Absolutely (the meeting) in September will determine our compliance with ICE,” said Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

According to Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission chair George Lippman, this change reflects city officials’ desire to establish a policy in which Berkeley puts its constitutional and human rights values first.

“I applaud the courage of the people making the decision to not comply — rather than ‘honor,’” said activist and former UC Berkeley graduate student Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle. “There’s nothing honorable about kidnapping parents and hardworking people with the ICE hold.”

Stierle was arrested while meditating during a police raid of Occupy Oakland in November and detained because his student visa expired in 2008.

Through a program called Secure Communities, detainees’ fingerprints are run through the federal database, which then sends the data to ICE even if the person has not committed a criminal act. After being turned over to ICE as an illegal immigrant, Stierle was at risk of deportation, despite having no criminal record.

Stierle’s arrest for nonviolent civil disobedience is one of many cases that prompted the City Council to make the changes in the department’s compliance with the ICE.

“(Implementing this policy) will address the flaws of Secure Communities to make sure that innocent people don’t get arrested,” Arreguin said.

According to the ICE website, 396,906 illegal immigrants were removed from the United States in 2011 — 54.6 percent of whom were criminal offenders. Arreguin said he considers that percentage to be flawed because of the loose definition of what is criminal.

Many community members concerned with the ICE agreement with Berkeley and other cities expressed their sentiments at the meeting.

“Unfortunately, being an immigrant is like being black in the age of slavery in the United States,” said Berkeley resident Pablo Perez. “(Illegal immigrants) have no idea what it is like to be innocent until proven guilty.”

Others expressed their sentiments about Berkeley police’s compliance with ICE.

“They are using our resources when they should be behind the real criminals, not behind people that work hard,” said Manuel de Paz, a member of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley.

According to Lippman, although the city was not able to finalize the policies at the special meeting, a conversation about creating a human rights-oriented policy was definitely started.

“Berkeley will be the first in the country to have such a policy,” Arreguin said. “This sends a message to Berkeley we should not adopt a policy in which we are giving our employees to a forced federal immigration law.”

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  • originalone

    Minor offenses, vs rape?  A no brainer as to which is which. As for flocking to Berkeley, I wonder just how much of an influx they experienced due to the various bans on cooperation with the federals in the past? Hysteria about illegals seems to be front & center today, to take the minds[?] off the lousy economy the Washington D.C. critters provide.  Considering that they have obligated 1 1/2 $Trillion of the budget to making war in the world, while letting this country degrade, oh, that’s another subject. Sorry.

  • Hmmmmm… to this vile city council it appears that sneaking into the country to squat and filch is not a serious offense. Amazing. This group are clearly in lock step with that loathsome socialist miscreant in the White House and his despicable ilk. Pathetic.

  • the devil

    Black  people didn’t walk into the USA in the colonial days and were not free to leave  and illegal immigration is nothing like being taken a slave.  Black people built this country but getting a fair share of it is still a challenge- for many centuries . There is no comparing this to being an illegal immigrant. Immigrants still have a culture they know that wasn’t stolen from them, and a land they can return to where they have a home and relatives who know them. You want a hand out from everyone you look at and you do not deserve it. Since you’re so smart and hard working, you need to rebuild Mexico and make it better than the USA. Then you need to keep us out.

  • Calipenguin

    This is terrific news for illegal aliens.  I’m sure Berkeley’s City Council has allocated enough money to accommodate thousands of illegals who will move to Berkeley to avoid deportation.  The illegal aliens should be instructed not to commit petty crimes unless they are within Berkeley city limits, since surrounding cities may not be so sympathetic.   I wonder if Eric Holder will sue Berkeley for making immigration decisions without federal approval.  Nah, that only happens to cities that want to follow U.S. immigration laws.

  • I_h8_disqus

    After being turned over to ICE as an illegal immigrant, Stierle was at risk of deportation, despite having no criminal record.”

    He is here illegally.  That gives him a criminal record.

    The only thing I have against illegal immigration is that it is illegal.  Berkeley will reap what it sows.  If I was an illegal, I would locate in Berkeley, and then I would get a job at city hall.  I would probably run for the city council.  Safest place and job for an illegal in the US.

  • Dan Spitzer

    Off Topic: But some of you might wish to address the new missive to the Daily Cal in the Letters Section written by anti-Semite supreme, Alison Weir, justifying the Daily Cal printing her organization’s anti-Israeli propaganda. I am noting it here so that you don’t miss it if you wish to reply to it.

  • I say any and all taxpayer costs for illegal immigrants in Berkeley needs to come out of  the budget of the City of Berkeley, straight off the top, starting with the Mayor’s office.

  • Guest

    If an illegal immigrant raped a woman in Berkeley, the city council would say “shut up and take it, that’s the price you pay for growing up as a privileged American”.


  • reztips

    It’s one thing to make special allowances for children of those who entered the US illegally (I agree with Obama on this). It’s yet another to give special treatment to illegals on possible criminal matters. Berkeley has once again made itself the laughingstock of a nation which holds it rightfully in distain. 

    The Peace and Justice Commission has regularly initiated “recommendations” which make the city look silly, be it the Rachel Corrie issue, the city’s policy on nuclear energy, or now specially treatment for illegal immigrants who may have violated the criminal law. As usual, the ideologue George Lippman, P&J’s chair, has helped continue these absurd initiatives, aided and abetted by Jesse Arreguin and Kris Worthington (who represents the Berkeley student district). Arreguin and Worthington should be voted out of office and Peace and Justice (actually the polar opposite of its name) should be terminated so as to not further embarrass and do harm to our fair city…

    • Russell Bates

       you always seem to insert some zionist propaganda into your somewhat tedious comments.

      • Dan Spitzer

        And Master Bates, you always seem to insert some anti-Semitic commentary into your ignorant rejoinders.

        Out of curiosity, do you clear them first with your Commissar overlords at KPFA?

        • Dan Spitzer

          BTW Master Bates, Alison Weir has published in David Duke’s on line journal. I’m sure this meets with your hearty approval.

          • Russell Bates

            mr. dan,your sense of humor lacks two things:sense and humor.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Were that the case, given your manifest limitations you would understand me perfectly. Methinks that cartoons are the parameters of your cranial capacity. That and your appreciation of Islamofascism, Palestinian treatment of women and gays, and the right to any semblance of dissent in the Arab world. Within the scope of your bigoted life, this is the very frontier of your capacity for comprehension.

            And like Alison Weir, you are a true fan of David Duke, aren’t you Master Bates?

      • And you always seem to find some conspiratorialist Zionist hand in all political issues. Your anti-semitism is quite apparent.

        • Russell Bates

          i only hope you are not a parent.

        • Russell Bates

          nope,but hopefully my anti-zionism is apparent.

  • another_engineer

    Talk about no instinct for self preservation.  Not only did they break the law being here illegally, they are sapping california of over 20 Billion $ a year …

    can’t wait for the san andreas to cut loose.

  • Callous

    Great move by Berkeley. The rule of law should be undermined if the law is aimed doing more harm than good. 

    • libsrclowns

      The way it works in a democracy is you change the law. But then again, if you are an Obamabot, you can pick and choose which laws to obey.

      Sort of like most totalitarian states…make it up as you go..Whatever pleases dear leader.

    •  Why is it so “harmful” to enforce our immigration laws, unless your goal is to provide a perverse incentive for even more of them to come here?

      • libsrclowns

        Come here and vote for Libs.

  • Undermining the rule of law, as usual.