Article summarizes reports about raids in Santa Barbara.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Santa Barbara, CA -- In a jarring reminder that the human rights of immigrants—the rights to work, move about, and live a life free from fear—are under constant threat of violation, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided three restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara this morning. At least thirty people have been detained, according to community activists.
ICE officials were unavailable for comment. The manager of the Wine Cask, the restaurant nearest to the area of the reported raids, denied that any of his employees were detained.
The alleged raids come on the tails of a Santa Barbara Grand Jury investigation that scapegoated immigrants for many of the county’s problems. The Grand Jury’s report also recommended tracking undocumented immigrants—a recommendation that alarmed immigrant rights activists and civil libertarians alike.
Similar rumors of detentions and deportations, which were later confirmed, circulated on May 1 of this year, the one-year anniversary of the largest rally in Santa Barbara since the Vietnam War. In response, a group of young activists addressed the Santa Barbara city council, expressing their concern that the timing of the raids was an intentional move to suppress the free speech of immigrants, many of whom had been planning on attending immigrant-rights community events. They also urged the city to pass a resolution declaring Santa Barbara a sanctuary for immigrants.
While some members of the council subsequently expressed interest in such an ordinance, they failed to place the item on the next week’s agenda.
Area activists are currently planning their next step.
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