Immigration Raids Led to 65 Arrests

By Jennifer Upshaw, Marin Independent Journal
March 15, 2007

Immigration agents arrested 65 people and deported 23 in raids conducted last week in San Rafael and Novato, congression-al officials said Thursday.

An aide in Rep. Lynn Woolsey's office met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who released the figures at her request, spokesman Chris Shields said.

It was not clear if a list of those detained and their locations would be forthcoming, he said.

"I know she's asked for it, I don't know if she's received it," Shields said.

Last week, federal officials conducted a series of raids in San Rafael, and one in Novato as part of a national crackdown dubbed Operation Return to Sender, which aims to send illegal immigrants home.

"I wish I could trust it," Canal Alliance Executive Director Tom Wilson said of the figures. "The way they've been operating, the way they've been holding back information and the way they've been refusing to give information to elected officials up to this moment - I don't trust it.

"For every one they picked up, 12 are not named on the warrant. That means it's more about people not named in the warrant," he said. "That's really scary - that tells me they're just using the warrant as a way to get in a door into a house."

An ICE spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.
Raid proponents said the actions are legal and justified.

"The numbers aren't the issue - it's the activity, it's the arrests that are important," said Novato resident Rick Oltman, spokesman for Santa Barbara-based Californians for Population Stabilization.

He said he has heard a lot of rhetorical remarks, such as an assertion by Supervisor Charles McGlashan during a public hearing Tuesday that likened ICE enforcement actions to tactics used in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

"It's bad enough that community activists need to sensationalize legitimate law enforcement by comparing it to the death squads, but when public officials compare law enforcement officers to Nazis, this is just pure sensationalism," Oltman said. "This is a legitimate law enforcement operation. It leaves me speechless that elected officials would be so ill-informed.
"It's really unbelievable how far we have sunk," he said.

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