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Protesters rally for immigrant rights after courthouse ICE arrests

Members of immigration rights organizations rallied outside Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa Tuesday morning to protest the arrest of two immigrants at the courthouse last week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The arrests on Feb. 18 illustrated the standoff between federal immigration officials and local cities, counties and the state of California that have declared themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants.

Renee Saucedo, a program director with the Graton Day Labor Center, said at the Tuesday morning protest:

“We heard (President Donald) Trump threaten more aggressive activity in the sanctuaries is very likely and it’s why the raids were conducted here to send a message.”

Saucedo said:

“They don’t care about state or local policies that protect undocumented immigrants.”

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office and County Counsel’s offices last week condemned the arrests, and Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said his office did not collaborate with Department of Homeland Security agents in the arrests.

The arrests last week dissuade immigrants from accessing the services they are entitled to, Saucedo said.

Saucedo added:

“Our alliance of organizations will follow the leadership of the immigrants themselves and we will work with local and state officials to make sure this never happens again.”

Speakers at the protest called for an end of ICE’s presence in the county, the separation of families and what they said was the terrorizing of community members.

One woman said:

“We are dehumanized, mistreated and attacked, even hunted.”

Supporters chanted:

“Enough is Enough!”

“No More ICE in Sonoma County!”

Eliseo Dominguez with the Graton Day Labor Center said:

“I’m not mad, I’m sad about how ICE is destroying families.”

Dominguez added:

“We no longer want to feel like hunted animals. I live here to work and have a better life for me and my family. We are not criminals, we are a community of workers. We don’t want ICE in our parks and in our cities.”

Other immigrant rights organizations at the protest included the North Bay Rapid Response Network, ALMAS-Active Women’s Labor Solidarity Alliance, North Bay Jobs With Justice and North Bay Organizing Project.

ICE officials weren’t immediately available to comment on the arrests or Tuesday’s rally.

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