Thursday, June 28, 2007

ICE Raids Continue in Orange County

Last week reported on a 5-day ICE sweep in Orange County. Apparently, the activity continues. This is an account from one community observer:

I am writing with tears of rage flowing my eyes right now. I keep waiting to learn that somehow the situation with the raids surely is not as bad as we thought, or there was this out-of-the-blue sweep of raids that began and ENDED last week in the O.C. and now everything is growing more tranquil. But the reports we continue to learn and hear from people on the streets, in the communities, tell us something different.

Today, a half-dozen or so people hit the streets of Santa Ana around 4th and Main, carrying signs that say "DEPORT ICE" and "ALTO A LOS REDADAS" and fliers abouto the upcoming meeting (Thurs) and march (Sat.). We were following up on a report from a team of folks who last night learned that there had been ICE agents at a nearby market (Northgate Gonzales) and suspected that an ICE raid might perhaps be in the works. The report was that last Saturday morning, around 11am, these agents were spotted talking to businesses and checking entrances and exits. We thought it was possibe a raid was being planned for this area, so we wanted to check it out without causing any alarm to community members.

What we learned today, walking to and around the store and surrounding area, was that apparantly a raid did take place. A separate report from a local person was that Friday and Saturday, around 10 or 11am and then again around 3pm, that ICE appeared and just started taking people. This report said the agents entered Carisol marketplace (same vicinity as the other) and took away 15 people, plus several other reports of seeing the vans and ICE officials walking around their streets.

The time and location corresponds enough to the first report that it sounds valid. It is difficult to confirm the actuality of the numbers reported, right now there is so little documentation of what is happening that all we have to rely on is the word on the streets.

As we approached another street vendor and surrounding clientele, we heard more stories. We met a family who said they called Univision already to tell them their story--that the ICE agents are targeting bike trails where parents walk their kids home from school. We were asked repeatedly by this family to please go there if we wanted to help, to go there when school is getting out that that is when the agents arrive to grab people. The school in particular the spoke of is Roosevelt school on Chestnut and Holiday.

We heard other stories--of agents stopping people in their cars (perhaps this is the checkpoint others reported of occuring last night??). After a while, it grew difficult to continue writing down all the street corners and locations where they had heard immigration agents had been appearinng because there were just so many--15th and Surgeon by Davis school,
17th St. at a 7-11,
1st and Grand,
Chapman St. in the city of Orange, and so on.

Another group of women we encountered on the street today said that we had just missed agents earlier this morning. They said that at 9:30 this morning, 2 vans that said HOMELAND SECURITY parked, one on each side of the street, and 3 men in black/ navy blue uniforms that said "immigration" on it, each carrying pistols around their waste, walked into theirs and other peoples businesses and starting asking questions, with little children standing nearby and families on streets surrounding. At this point, the ladies we spoke to said they were told by others to go inside and not come out until they (the immigration officials) had left.

When we walked down another block, I peered ahead to inspect an unmarked white van parked on the strip. As I walked forward, carrying my sign, I was greeted with something that caught me by great surprise to receive. I was greeted by a standing ovation (clapping and standing up) by the vendors and women gathered on that particular location. I almost couldn't believe my eyes (or ears). I walked over to them to share the flier and information about events, and they told us about several other locations of raids; they spoke to us of how empty their streets were (on the main strip in Santa Ana) all through the weekend; they told us of how much fear people are in, that they are too afraid to come out and shop. The group of people took the fliers, promised to come to the meeting tomorrow night, and thanked us repeatedly for being there.

Another uncofirmed report is also that yesterday immigration officials corned off streets at the end of the work day at 3 different janitorial work sites near Irvine. More details are coming in later today on that report.

Tomorrow, we call for continued walks through the community. We are asking for a team to depart from Centro (the corner of 5th and Broadway) at noon (come early if possible to make signs), but either way--depart at noon to make the same walk down 4th street as the community was greatly appreciative of our presence.

Secondly, we'd like a second team to go to Roosevelt school on Chestnut and Holiday when the kids get let out to provide a presence of safety for the parents walking their children home from school. The exact address and time of release needs to be confirmed--anyonoe is welcome to research that and post it back to the recipients of this email, or look it up yourself and just show up tomorrow at the end of the school day.

What is happening is clearly horrible, and based on the growing numbers of people responding, this will NOT be taken quietly. We met people on the streets today who had already received our fleirs, copied them, and was distributing them to their friends and/or posting on their market windows. We expect a significant community response and participation in tomorrow's meeting, and suggest for people to help by providing or bringing refreshments? a pitcher of aguas? pan dulce?

bh

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