Community's Urgent Response Action Stopped ICE from Deporting Youth

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NNIRR’s urgent response calls had a double impact:

  • ICE released Jonathan Sánchez on Tuesday, January 25!
  • Community calls also put the County Sheriff on notice for immigration-police collaboration

NNIRR deeply thanks everyone who made telephone calls and sent faxes and emails to the San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore in Stockton, CA and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Sacramento demanding the release of Jonathan Sánchez.

The mobilization, the calls you made, had a double impact!

A week after local police jailed him just for his immigration status, Jonathan Sánchez was released yesterday afternoon on bond.

And the San Joaquin County Sheriff acknowledged the community’s call to stop collaborating with immigration policing. (You and your organization can become part of such urgent response actions to demand justice, rights and accountability in cases of abuse by joining NNIRR’s human rights initiative HURRICANE: The Human Rights Immigrant Community Network.)

Before the Calls

Prior to the big call-in mobilization, Jonathan Sánchez faced threats of deportation and constant haranguing. He had been denied bail and the Sheriff would not use his discretionary power to release him from the ICE hold.

Sánchez had been arrested on Monday, January 17, after a car on which he was a passenger was stopped by police. Because he had done community service for a prior offense and the San Joaquin County jail is linked to ICE through “Secure Communities,” Sánchez’s fingerprints were shared with ICE. ICE put a hold on Sánchez and jailed him for over a week.

During the week, Sheriff’s county jail staff and officers attempted to force him into signing away his rights so that ICE could deport him ASAP. County jail staff constantly harassed and tormented Jonathan to the point of tears.

The Sheriffs also ignored his pleas for health services; Sánchez requires dialysis three times a week.

After the Calls Began

As the calls and faxes mounted, Luis Magaña, a community organizer with the American Friends Services Committee in Modesto and working for Sánchez’s release, found out that county jail personnel started treating Sánchez differently and inquiring with him about how he was doing. Sánchez received dialysis treatment, even though his health was suffering from the stress and trauma of being incarcerated.

Magaña also reported that the calls also put new pressure on SJ County Sheriff Steve Moore to acknowledge the community’s concerns and calls to his office to opt out of “Secure Communities,” ICE’s immigration-police collaboration program.

Luis Magaña said that over the last year Sheriff Moore had ignored the community’s invitations to meet with them and hear their concerns. Magaña said that the urgent response action showed the Sheriff that the community’s call to end the county’s collusion with ICE has broad support.

A victory for Jonathan Sánchez and a lesson for the movement

In the end, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s jail officers had to recognize that Jonathan Sánchez and other inmates were humans and that they had to treat him and all as such. The calls also pressured ICE to change their stance and release him on bond; they also lowered the bond from $5,000 to $3,000. And a deportation was halted, even if temporarily.

While the County-ICE jailing and the harassment severely affected Jonathan’s health, your calls and support helped him win a much-needed reprieve to fight for his right to live here with his family and community.

This action was also successful for at least two reasons:

  1. People in his community reported the immigration-police abuse committed against Jonathan Sanchez to local groups and their networks; and
  2. His friends, family, and local and broader community activists and organizers in the immigrant rights and justice movements took action: They made calls and sent faxes and emails demanding his protection of his rights and health, pressure police and ICE to release him on humanitarian grounds, and demanded accountability.

Additionally, Jonathan knew his rights – that he didn’t have to sign any document or answer questions and that he had the right to get a lawyer and his day in court.

Without these elements, things would have turned out differently for Jonathan Sánchez. Unfortunately, this happens to hundreds of thousands of people every year. While high profile raids, where ICE, often with local police collaboration, arrests dozens of people at a time, terrorize local communities and send shock waves across the country, the overwhelming majority of people are being jailed and deported through workplace and community policing or when local police arrest someone like Jonathan and turn him over to ICE.

We must demand an end to all immigration raids and immigration policing collaboration and enforcement. ICE and immigration-police collaboration make our communities more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. If the San Joaquin County Sheriffs had upheld Jonathan Sánchez’s due process rights and not jailed him for ICE, an abuse would have been averted.

A small ring with a big message

Even though a phone call made for justice and solidarity may same like a small action, your calls made a big difference in a family’s life and let many communities know they are not alone. You also let ICE and other police know that they cannot get away immigration-police collaboration, racial profiling and criminalization.

Help build the movement! Please become a permanent member of NNIRR's family and community working together to stop, report, and document abuses and organize with communities for justice and human rights!

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READ NNIRR's latest HURRICANE human rights report Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime

Check out NNIRR's Immigrant Rights News blog

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