WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa prayer vigil urges limits on agencies’ immigration cooperation


More than 100 people gathered in front of the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa on Thursday afternoon for a prayer vigil to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a legislation limiting local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

The group included local clergy, immigration advocates, undocumented immigrants and community leaders. Some immigrants described how they had eventually landed in deportation proceedings after being stopped for a traffic violation.

If signed by the governor, Assembly Bill 1081 by Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would prohibit local police agencies from detaining suspected illegal immigrants on federal immigration holds except in cases where suspects have been charged with a serious or violent felony or convicted of one in the past.

“I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he was a liberator. I believe he had compassion and love for everyone,” said Rev. Lee Turner of Santa Rosa’s Community Baptist Church. “So-called ‘illegal immigrant’ doesn’t mean you’re an illegal human being. We stand here on behalf of all human beings and what this country truly stands for.”

Though directed toward the governor, the vigil was held at the county jail complex as a symbolic gesture. Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas opposes the measure, saying it would force him to either defy the new state law or ignore federal regulations. Under the federal Secure Communities program, many undocumented immigrants are flagged in jail after their fingerprints and other biometric data are checked against federal immigration records.

Freitas argues that the language in the regulations expressly states that he “shall maintain custody of the alien” for up to 48 hours, giving federal authorities the opportunity to take the inmate into custody.

But that argument is challenged in a Aug. 30 letter signed by 30 law professors across the country, including the deans of the UC Berkeley and UC Irvine law schools, that urges the governor to sign the bill.

The authors state that “the voluntary nature of immigration detainers is clear from statutory and regulatory language and history and is required by Constitutional limits on the commandeering of local officials for federal civil enforcement purposes.”

At the vigil, Luis Gonzalez, an undocumented immigrant who lives in Santa Rosa, described how he was stopped for making an illegal turn near the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in west Santa Rosa six years ago.

Gonzalez said there was an federal immigration agent in the sheriff’s patrol car that pulled him over and that he’s been fighting his case for the past six years. He said he recently applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established this summer by President Barack Obama.

Among the religious leaders participating were representatives of Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Santa Rosa and Petaluma, Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa and Bridge Community Church of Sebastopol.

The event was organized by the North Bay Organizing Project.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

9 Responses to “Santa Rosa prayer vigil urges limits on agencies’ immigration cooperation”

  1. Skippy says:

    As an American, some of the things others have said that liars ascribe to Mitt Romney make me motivated to work even harder for his election.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  2. Phaerisee says:

    As a christian, some of the things that Mitt Romney believes make me uncomfortable.


    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Commonsense says:

    @Mr. Turner,
    Being in a country illegally doesn’t make you an “illegal human being” (whatever that means), but it sure does make you a criminal, and subject to the criminal laws of the country in which you are found to be in ILLEGALLY. Luckily for offenders here in the US, we have proven ourselves to be inconsistant and divided, so they have plenty to take advantage of while they’re here. Had they chose many other countries to reside illegally in, well, then the result would be much different wouldn’t it. The bottom line is we have a process by which one may immigrate to this country (and I know many who’ve gone through it). Many here illegally are not here to become American’s but only because they can earn more here working illegally, then they can where they came from, and that creates a whole list of issues (increased costs to states education, health and safety net programs with little or no money being placed into the system). A country whose laws are optional isn’t much of a country and probably one where “freedom of religion” isn’t likely to last all that long.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  4. Graeme Wellington says:

    Once again our local religious people need to review Romans 13 during their prayer vigil.

    Get the laws changed through democratic process. If Obama can sign an executive order telling the Attorney General not to enforce certain laws, then Romney can sign an executive order ordering the IRS not to enforce Obamacare.

    The USA does not run by executive fiat. It’s your conscience against everyone else’s. Change the laws.

    The problem is, most people don’t want to change the laws and don’t want unlimited immigration or rewards for people who broke the law. That’s democracy. Sorry Charlie.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  5. Jim Bennett says:

    Question: Since the State is a corporation, why not run it fiscally more like a business?

    Answer: Because our public officials are complicit in a plan that is socially engineered to crash us.

    Any Bill that undermines our sovereignty will pass. Any Bill that contributes to our bankrupting us will pass. Anything that will polarize the populace will pass.

    The Mexican people are trying to do the best they can for themselves. I wish our leadership was doing the best they can for us. The people of two corrupt Countries meet. Maybe in our lifetime we’ll all learn who our foes really are.

    Add population, starve us of resources.

    When we’re all homeless serfs looking for work, the Plan will have culminated.
    THEN, we will go along with just about anything. THAT’S the whole idea. ‘Cause there’s a lot they want us to go along with.

    This is Agenda 21.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  6. David J. Spencer says:

    Assembly Bill 1081 would effectively turn California into a sanctuary state, and that is a matter that should be decided by the electorate in a general election, not by politicians in a back room.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

  7. Jim says:

    Oh, and after more relaxed enforcement is granted by Brown, he’ll demand MORE taxes to pay for the deficit. The same deficit that includes $10-15 billion wasted on handouts to those who should be there.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 5

  8. Jim says:

    This will show you who really runs this state. We already know that the pressure groups own the Federal government. You have Republican idiots like Bush and Reagan granting amnesty. You have Obama and his administration suing states for trying to protect themselves from the invasion of gangs and drug cartels. Heck there are parts of AZ, in the United States, that the AZ government says aren’t safe for citizens.

    Here is this wacko state you can’t go camping or hiking in many parts of the state because you’ll get killed by drug cartel goons.

    On top of the drug cartels and gangs murdering people you have billions of dollars wasted through social programs, education, food programs, law enforcement, discounted university tuition, medical care, law enforcement and prison expenses. Yet, these protesters, and soon the moron Jerry Brown, who has never seen a social program he didn’t like, will tie the hands of the only line of defense we have between complete chaos and the controlled chaos we currently have.


    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

  9. Reality Check says:

    It is truly a bind blower to think California would forbid local law enforcement from following federal law. For those who thought the Civil War settled such matters, and the lesson needed reteaching in the 1960s to people like George Wallace, now we have our legislature.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 5

Leave a Reply