Upholding the Values of a Sanctuary City

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The Fourth of July holiday is a time to reflect on the freedoms we as a nation cherish. But for too many people in our community, this is not a time of celebration, but of fear. Fear of being separated from their families. Fear of being uprooted from their community. Fear of being forced to return to a landscape torn apart by war and crime. In a nation that is supposed to espouse the values of immigration and refugees, it is clear that the policies being implemented by the White House are, at its core, un-American. 

Berkeley is a proud Sanctuary City with a legacy of protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. We were the first U.S. city to become a sanctuary city, passing a resolution in 1971, to protect sailors resisting the Vietnam War. In recent years, we have expanded and strengthened our status as a Sanctuary City, working with organizations in developing policies and programs to protect our immigrant and undocumented community. We continue to affirm the belief that all families should feel safe and welcome in our community. Our diversity and inclusiveness gives us strength.  

With reports of ICE raids on the horizon, we are ready to respond in protecting our community and our values. If you see ICE activity, call the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) Hotline at 510-241-4011. My website provides a list of resources you can use to protect yourself and your neighbors. Below is a list of recommendations if you encounter ICE:

  • Do not open your door - ICE must have a warrant signed by a judge with your correct name and address

  • You have the right to remain silent - do not answer questions

  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer - you may have them there during questioning

  • Always carry a valid immigration document with you such as a work permit or green card

  • If you are afraid you might be arrested by ICE let the officer know if you have children - ICE may exercise discretion and let you go if you notify them that you are a parent or primary caregiver of a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident

  • If looking for a family member of friend who has been detained visit http://locator.ice.gov

The political theater being orchestrated by the Trump Administration threatens to dismantle the very values we as Americans hold dear. We are horrified and heartbroken at the inhumane scenes we are witnessing at camps along the border. For Trump to claim that these cruel and inhumane conditions are acceptable shows a dangerous level of arrogance and a lack of humanity. It is time to stop treating this country like a reality show. These actions have real consequences and lives are at stake. 

On July 13, our community will be rallying in opposition of the camps. Join us at the MLK Civic Center Park (2150 MLK Jr Way) from 12pm-2pm as we hear from immigrant rights activists, DREAMers, faith leaders, and others who work on the front lines of this issue. No human is illegal and we cannot expect anything less than the fair, humane, and sanitary treatment of children and families.  

Berkeley will always have its doors open. The concept of helping our neighbors and lifting up those who are less fortunate than us are deeply ingrained in our history. These are not just Berkeley values, or even Californian or American values. These are human values. For centuries, America has served as a beacon to the world, as a place of hope, refuge, and freedom. We have a moral and ethical obligation to keep shining that beacon, and will never waiver in doing so.  

Jesse Arreguin