The streets are quiet in Old Town Goleta. Everyone is afraid to leave their homes, said a worker at La Chapala Market. People are sending their children to buy groceries, she said, no one feels safe. This weekend ICE — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — conducted a three-day raid in which 22 Santa Barbara County residents were arrested. At least five of the arrests took place in Old Town Goleta.
A husband and father with no criminal record, said his wife, was among those arrested. He had come to pick up his car when he was called over by ICE officials, said the worker at La Chapala. They asked him if he had documentation, and he said no. They’re all very hard-working people, she said of those who were arrested: “They’re all good people.”
The three-day operation included Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura counties. In all, 162 individuals were taken into custody. ICE released a statement saying the operation was targeting “at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives, and aliens released back in to the community after detainers filed by ICE with local law enforcement officials were ignored.” ICE Director Thomas Homan has made it clear that ICE does not exempt anyone deemed a “removable alien” from potential enforcement.
ICE reported that almost 90 percent of the 162 had criminal convictions. This number includes anyone who violated immigration laws by re-entering the country after deportation, a nonviolent offense. The percentage of violent offenses was not reported.
Among those detained was a Santa Barbara City College student. He was stopped and questioned early Sunday morning in the Santa Cruz Market parking lot in Old Town Goleta while he was on his way to one of his two jobs. His English as a Second Language teacher, Susan Braden, describes him as a “very nice, humble, intelligent person.” Braden does not believe he had a prior criminal record. “[He] just wanted to work here and better his life and that of his family,” she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union advises that if people encounter ICE agents on the street, stay calm, do not talk to the agents, and do not run — this will give them a reason to arrest you. Do not answer questions or give information about your immigration status or national origin. Ask if you are free to leave and walk away calmly. If they stop your vehicle and ask for documents, provide your license, car registration, and proof of insurance. Do not answer questions or give information about your immigration status or national origin. Do not consent to a search of yourself or your vehicle.