A History of Sanctuary
Berkeley was the first U.S. city to become a sanctuary city, passing a resolution in 1971, to protect sailors resisting the Vietnam War. One of the pioneers of this movement was Gus Schultz, pastor at Universal Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, who was approached by Bob Fitch, who organized San Diego churches to support conscientious objectors. Together, they drafted an initiative that forbade city employees from assisting in the enforcement of federal law, inspiring later generations of sanctuary movement activists.
In January 2017, as attacks on the undocumented immigrant community rose, the City of Berkeley reaffirmed its status as a sanctuary city.
Since the election of Donald J. Trump, and his focus on deporting undocumented people, including people who have committed no crimes, the number of immigration raids have greatly increased. As a result, many people in our community and throughout the country are feeling scared and powerless. Most of them are law-abiding people who only want to work and take care of their families.
As a sanctuary city, Berkeley has committed to not support, communicate with or submit to the demands of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Our community believes in protecting all of our residents and letting them know they are safe, regardless of their immigration status.
Know Your Rights
Under our sanctuary policy, all city departments and employees, including the Berkeley Police Department, have agreed to not comply with ICE officers who don't have a valid judicial warrant. We will also not request or provide any information about individuals’ immigration status.
No matter who is our president, everyone living in the Unites States has certain basic rights under the Constitution, including undocumented immigrants.
Please call the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) hotline at (510) 241-4011 if you see or suspect ICE activity.
Sanctuary City Task Force
Soon after coming into office, Mayor Arreguin formed a Sanctuary City Task Force as a way to develop policies and programs to protect our immigrant and undocumented community.
Members include Centro Legal de la Raza, East Bay Community Law Center, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, The Multicultural Institute, Berkeley Unified School District, and many other community partners.
The Mayor’s office also recognizes other community efforts to protect immigrants, including the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP), which provides rapid response and legal services to people threatened by ICE.
ACILEP and the San Francisco Bar Association are holding trainings regularly for people who want to become volunteer responders to resist the raids and deportations.
Through the dedication of these and many other organizations and individuals, our community will remain a safe space.