Undocumented immigrants deserve more from Berkeley in light of upcoming ICE raids

CITY AFFAIRS: As nation’s first sanctuary city, Berkeley must offer effective resources, accessible information on rights to undocumented residents

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Undocumented immigrants in the Bay Area are living in fear and uncertainty after President Donald Trump tweeted that authorities will conduct mass deportations of millions in the coming weeks. The raids, which were supposed to take place Sunday, have been delayed — giving the city of Berkeley and other Bay Area cities the chance to inform their undocumented residents. 

The city of Berkeley must stand in opposition and actively resist against these raids. Though Berkeley, the nation’s first sanctuary city, has passed legislature such as the Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance in the past, the city now has an opportunity and an obligation to explicitly condemn the coming raids. When it comes to immigrants’ rights, we’re unfortunately no longer operating in the hypothetical, and Berkeley must prove that it’s willing to act on the values it has supported. 

The Berkeley city website explains that as a sanctuary city, it does not support, communicate with or submit to the demands of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers. But the website doesn’t provide a Spanish translation of this information and doesn’t list the rights of undocumented immigrants — in fact, the link on the city website to a summary of individuals’ rights is missing. 

Berkeley maintaining sanctuary status doesn’t mean that ICE agents can’t execute raids within city limits. It simply means the city will not assist ICE with the deportation of undocumented immigrants. This is why it is essential that the city not only reemphasize its position as a sanctuary city but also provide concrete support to undocumented residents. These efforts should start with the use of inclusive language in informational sources.

Berkeley has a limited amount of time to start effectively supporting its undocumented residents before the raids take place. In addition to his statement on Twitter, Mayor Jesse Arreguín needs to make a public statement voicing disapproval of the ICE raids, as the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland have done, and he must keep the community informed about when they take place. The city should restructure its website to have an accessible and accurate description of immigrant rights while working to provide useful information about immigrant law services, shelters and mental health resources for undocumented residents. 

The Berkeley City Council should also order or print out the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s Red Cards — cards that detail the rights of undocumented immigrants when they are approached by ICE agents. These should be distributed throughout the city to businesses and offices that can offer them to patrons. By putting this information in the hands of all community members, regardless of their immigration status, Berkeley is comprehensively mobilized to protect its undocumented residents. 

And remember: If you or someone you know is an undocumented immigrant, you don’t have to open your door for an ICE agent, let ICE agents into your home, answer their questions or sign anything. As a community, we must protect undocumented immigrants’ constitutional rights and encourage the city of Berkeley to do the same. 

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editors.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article implied that Mayor Jesse Arreguín has made no public statements condemning the predicted ICE raids. In fact, Arreguín has made a statement on Twitter.