Walking Away With The Win

On Friday, July 20, this family stopped the deportation of their brother and son, through their unstoppable will, and successfully beat the process that makes criminal courts a waiting room for immigration court. This was a long road, but their loved one will be home next week as a result, and they created a blueprint for other families.  Submission Post by Raj Jayadev

Two Realities, One Child

Just last April, ACJP’s youngest member was at immigration court fighting deportation charges.  Yesterday, he graduated eighth grade.  In the fall of this year, he came back from an ICE detention facility after being referred there by San Mateo County probation.  It’s been one tough year for this young man, but he’s got the love of his family and community to pull him through.  Check out the campaign to stop juvenile ICE holds that ACJP De-Bug is working on with our allies in San Mateo County at www.stopdeportingyouth.com — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Vote to Build New Jail

Last Tuesday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted to spend approximately $155 million to build a new jail in the county.  Proposed by Sheriff Greg Munks, the construction of a new jail is supposed to relieve overcrowding in the current jail, create space for a women’s facility, and address the potential overflow as a result of AB109, the California realignment plan that makes counties deal with low-level offenders.

Instead of addressing why there are high incarceration rates to begin with, the County chose to just figure out how to house the growing population.  Community advocates such as All of Us Or None led by Dorsey Nunn, Critical Resistance, and Youth United for Community Action in East Palo Alto showed up at the Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday to state their opposition to the jail, saying the money put towards the jail only takes away from community services. “This is a jail for future generations,” Dorsey said. “Not only will they take our sons and daughters, but our grandkids.”

YUCA, a youth organization in East Palo Alto committed to environmental and social justice, first got involved about 2 years ago when the jail was being proposed to be built in East Palo Alto.  They collected over 400 petitions and got the City to declare their opposition to the jail construction in the community.  However, regardless of where the jail was in the county, YUCA youth were also opposed to the idea.  Anna Turner, a longtime resident in the community and is a Program Director at YUCA, attended the Board meeting as well.  “We should be spending the money on preventative measures, targeting the root cause of crime, not just locking people up.  Plus, we don’t want this jail to target undocumented people as well.”  YUCA and community advocates are looking to challenge the county’s decision.

At De-Bug’s ACJP, we’ve seen incarceration be too easy of an answer for San Mateo County.  We have seen some of the harshest sentences imposed on San Mateo County defendants, and on the front end, some of the most extreme charges placed on people that will almost always guarantee a plea bargain.  Compounded by this is ICE’s Secure Communities Program that has entangled immigration and criminal justice laws, and turned every police officer into an ICE agent.  We have seen immigrants with ICE holds beat their charges, have their charges dismissed or dropped, or could have been eligible for drug programs like Prop 36 but because of their ICE holds have been sent away to federal detention facilities.  

We feel that this decision to build a jail is counter to what seems like a regional trend of dealing with criminal justice issues in a more holistic and progressive way.  We hope the county rethinks this decision, and takes a more courageous, creative, and cost-effective stance to deal with the criminal justice system. — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo


A Day in Immigration Court with a 14-Year Old Defendant Facing Deportation

This is a photo of ACJP De-Bug’s youngest member — only 14 years old, who had an immigration court proceeding today in San Francisco.  He’s been coming to our weekly meetings for months now with his family and we’ve grown to know and love his quiet strength.

Scanning the courtroom, he was also the youngest person there who was facing deportation.  The air was thick with apprehension, of not knowing what was going to happen, and greater than that — of the fear of ICE agents coming into court right then and there.  In the waiting room that looks like a doctor’s office, the brown faces from Mexico, Central America, and Asia are furrowed.  But this young man has incredible courage, far more than what he realizes himself.  He stares down at his paperwork the whole time.  The pro-bono attorney of the day rapidly runs through paperwork to give him and says will ask for a continuance.  She battle-runs through the same set of questions we had seen her ask the Chinese person before us, and the Latino couple right before him.  “Where are you from?”  “Where is your family?”  — All questions that are loaded and sterile at the same time, given the place we were at this morning.

They call his name from the bench and the pro-bono attorney motions with two fingers to come to the front.  “You’re not alone up there,” I told him.  “I know,” he says. “God is with me.”  And he smiles.  It’s only 5 minutes that he’s up there, but the wait was about an hour and a half.  From the audience, I tell myself it’s all procedural today, but every pause of the judge pushes me closer to the edge of my seat.  At the end, another court date is set, and he breathes a sigh of relief outside. He looks up again and can’t wait to run to his mom.

Young people should be thinking about school, sports, what music they like — not deportation proceedings. I am hoping the human side of the immigration system breaks through for this young man, and for all young people and their families.  — Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

Stopdeportingyouth.com — New Site Highlights Local Efforts to Stop Juvenile ICE Holds in San Mateo County

With the Stanford Immigrants Rights Clinic, Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Youth United for Community Action, ACLU North Peninsula Chapter, Comite de Padres Unidos, and Nuestra Casa, we at Silicon Valley De-Bug have helped lead efforts to stop San Mateo County Probation’s practice of juvenile ICE holds in San Mateo County.  Families have come to De-Bug seeking support for their son’s or daughter’s cases where they have been caught up in juvenile hall and then sent to immigrant detention centers across the country — youth as young as 13. For the last four years, we’ve seen an increase in this number of families like no other, beginning with one mother from East Palo Alto who was so distraught at the thought of her 16 year old daughter being deported back to a country that she left when she was 3.  We learned that it was her PO who reported her to ICE, and initially, we thought it was a mistake.  But it turned out to be the complete opposite — this was actually routine practice.  In fact, San Mateo County is the second highest referrer of juveniles to ICE in California — second only to Orange County, according to statistics obtained by Immigrant Legal Resource Center from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

As part of the coalition’s efforts in the last nine months, we at De-Bug created this page, www.stopdeportingyouth.com, to highlight not just the practice of referring youth to ICE, but the strong stance that a broad-based coalition has taken to urge our county to do otherwise. We believe San Mateo County can do better.  Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

Click here or on the picture below to take you to the site.

Bringing Elias Home: 13-year-old Returns to Family After Immigration Detention

Submission Post and video by Charisse Domingo

After four months in immigration detention, 13 year old Elias comes home.  After facing charges, he was placed on an immigration hold, and unlike other Bay Area counties, San Mateo enforces detainer requests regardless of age.  But because of his mom’s advocacy and supported by community, Elias is coming home to spend Christmas with his family. 

A longer story on juvenile ICE holds is coming, but we wanted to share with you the moment that Patricia and Elias were reunited at the San Francisco Airport on Wednesday, December 21. 

Family Power Can Triumph Over Police Abuse

Powerful afternoon at De-Bug’s ACJP. The Custodio family shared their experiences, wisdom, and energy with a San Mateo Filipino family who are the victims of extreme police violence — repeated tasing and beating (including of an elder) of this family. And as these stories go, the police made-up and filed false charges against the family — the more excessive the police abuse the more unreasonable the charges. The Custodios — founding members of ACJP — shared their strength, as they had gone through a similar road, inspiring a community as the went (check out the video of their story made by one of our youth from 2007). Stay posted, big win coming out of San Mateo County in 2012. Family by family, family to family, true justice will be won…

Juvenile ICE Holds Honored in San Mateo County

Unlike Santa Clara County that doesn’t honor ICE holds on juveniles, San Mateo County practices the unjust policy of honoring detainers for young people under 18.  At ACJP, we’ve seen families come in with children as young as 12 who have had detainer requests placed on and honored in San Mateo County.  This Sunday, we worked with two families from Redwood City whose children — ages 12 and 13 — both have ICE holds in San Mateo County.  The younger one is so little that the clothes they gave him to wear at the hall don’t even fit him.  This young man thought he just had to agree to the charges and then he could go home.  But when he is released from the hall in mid-September, ICE has 48 hours to pick him up and he has to navigate the world of juvenile immigrant detention alone — a web of group homes, maybe a detention facility, maybe back home to fight his charges if he’s lucky.  It is a policy that is cruel, and the community needs to raise our voices to stop it.  Submission Post by Charisse Domingo