San Francisco deploys an army of "trained witnesses" to hinder ICE operations

Every week it seems more and more as if San Francisco doesn’t really want to be part of the United States anymore. Perhaps that Calexit thing needs a second look…

Out in the City by the Bay, activists are very concerned that Donald Trump will be “George W. Bush on steroids” when it comes to ICE officers locating and deporting illegal aliens. (The fact that Barack Obama left Bush in the dust on that front seems to be lost on them.) But fear not, campers. The Social Justice Warriors are prepared to fight back and are training thousands of “expert witnesses” who can be deployed the scene of ICE activities and hopefully hinder them from doing their awful, evil work of, you know… enforcing the law. (San Francisco Weekly)

Earlier this month, a network of organizations working under the umbrella group Bay Resistance trained hundreds of volunteers on how to legally observe, so they know how to witness and amass evidence when ICE officers are conducting enforcement efforts.

Between that and other trainings, more than 1,000 San Francisco residents — along with 200 in San Mateo County and 30 in Oakland — have learned how to gather information that can help deportees seek justice. One of the trainers is Blanca Vazquez, the lead organizer with Immigrant Youth Coalition, an organization for undocumented queer and trans youth. Vazquez helps train people to become legal observers and works as a dispatcher for San Francisco’s new rapid-response hotline, where residents can report local ICE activity.

The system works as such: When a call comes in, the dispatchers send a legal observer to the scene to check the validity of the report and to witness what’s going on. Observers are told to stay out of the way and not intervene, even if ICE officers become aggressive with potential detainees.

Much of the article centers on an interview with Yadira Sanchez, a woman whose grandfather (an illegal immigrant with a current deportation order hanging over his head) was picked up by ICE agents and promptly processed for deportation. She claims that her rapid action network was able to swiftly organize and, “bombard ICE with phone calls and emails.” She goes on to say that following some media attention, they were able to stop the ICE van on the way to the border and her grandfather was released. I see no documentation supporting this claim, but if it’s true that’s extremely alarming. We’re talking about someone who they fully admit was in the country illegally and had a current deportation order. What ICE was doing (if this story isn’t pure fiction) was simply carrying out a lawful order. How is it possible that some grandstanding activists could thwart them?

More to the point is the dubious nature of this “witness” training program they have going. They claim that nobody is going to be interfering with operations, but simply collecting data for possible use in court. Once again, I’m forced to ask why you would even bother. If ICE misidentifies somebody and attempts to deport a citizen or legal immigrant then that should be worked out in the courts. If it’s not, then I absolutely support having concerned friends and family getting into the process, showing that a mistake was made and getting the person released. But that’s not what Sanchez is talking about. These are people who she fully concedes are in the country illegally. By attempting to in any way thwart the activities of ICE in deportation proceedings you are not only assisting criminals but are breaking the law yourself.

This is no sort of activism or “justice” league being trained up here. It’s a criminal organization hiding in plain sight. If you are conspiring to impede the proper actions of law enforcement you should be talking to a good lawyer for yourself, not the person being deported.