By Jarymar Arana
Community members of all colors, genders, races, ages, and immigration status gave witness to the injustice and flawed nature of the so called "secure-communities" program at the Alameda County Public Protection Committee Hearing on the policy of ICE Detainers, January 10. The room was filled, and there were about 30 or 40 testimonies -- all against S-Comm.
It was beautiful to see support from interfaith groups, civil and human rights activists, attorneys, law students, high school students, and workers.
Brave high school students shared heartbreaking personal stories who were themselves children of undocumented immigrants and part of the 67 Suenos migrant youth group.
A woman came up to the podium and tearfully described how her employer hit her in the face leaving the left side bruised and purple. When she told her employer she was going to police and to the doctor, the employer threatened her, telling her she had better not and that she was illegal and would get deported if she went to authorities.
One young woman opened up her testimony with "Hello, humans- because that's what we all are: humans, there are no 'aliens' here."
Another youth shared a powerful spoken word piece about Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas who was tasered to death at the hands of ICE on the California/Mexico border in 2010.
Black and Brown unity was strong as stories were shared that linked S-Comm to our common struggles of police brutality, racial profiling, attacks on the poor and working class, and attacks on our youth.
There were stories like that of a mother who was waiting to pick up her husband at work and an officer came up and gave her a ticket, ran a check, realized she did not have “papers” and pulled her out of her car. She had to hand off her newborn infant to the passenger. She was still breastfeeding. The woman was deported and did not see her baby until one year later.
Another story, this one of a man on his work break and sitting in his car eating lunch. An officer came up to him allegedly because his rear mirror was broken and proceeded to cite him and run a check, finding out he had no papers. The Guatemalan man tried to fight the deportation saying if he was sent back he would be killed. He was sent back to Guatemala anyway and three months later he was murdered. He left behind his wife and family. He paid the highest price -- and all for just sitting in his car eating lunch.
One person’s testimony finished strongly by saying "investment in S-Comm is investment in the death of our youth," explaining that many youth are left without their parents because of S-Comm detentions and deportations and they end up being "raised by the streets."
Outside of the hearing room, one woman, holding her infant, said that after having her baby, she truly understood on a personal level, the devastation of tearing families apart. She added, “They say 2,000 people were affected. It’s so much more than that. It’s the families, the children, the parents, the aunts and uncles, it’s this wide ripple and the community is all affected. Those deportations hurt so many people.”
The message was heard loud and clear that S-Comm does nothing to keep communities secure and that we will not stop until ICE and police collaboration stops.
In Alameda County nearly 2,000 residents of our county have been torn from their families and deported by the S-Comm deportation program.
This is the first hearing in Alameda County where the Board of Supervisors heard directly from our communities about the devastating impacts of local police collaboration with ICE.
The hearing was filled with powerful stories, testimonies, truth and so much love. Love for our families, our communities, for each other and for justice.