Protesters gathered Wednesday morning outside Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims’ office to protest the sheriff’s collaboration with deportation officials and to support a “Caravan Against Fear” tour to defend immigrant rights.
Santos Garcia, a community outreach coordinator for the Central Labor Council, said he is a U.S. citizen but has family members who are not. “They are trying to become citizens. They are working very had to achieve the American dream. They are not committing crimes,” he said.
Garcia said he came to protest Mims’ cooperation with ICE and the deportation of inmates from the Fresno County Jail. “She is interfering with people’s constitutional rights to appear in front of a judge,” he said.
She is interfering with people’s constitutional rights to appear in front of a judge.
Santos Garcia, Central Labor Council
Mims said in a statement that while she supports the constitutional right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest, as the Fresno County sheriff “I also believe in the rule of law. Holding criminals accountable supports the rule of law.
“My partnership with ICE in the Fresno County Jail has proven to be an effective process to identify those with criminal records who should be taken into federal custody. We will continue to work together in order to keep everyone in our community safe.”
Mims said she will continue to ask Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform “to make our communities even safer.”
The Fresno protest is on the third day of the Caravan of Fear tour, which on Tuesday led a massive protest at the federal detention center in Richmond. The tour continues to Bakersfield Wednesday evening and then on to San Bernardino, Los Angeles and San Diego. The tour is sponsored by a coalition of labor, community, human rights, religious, civic, environmental and other organizations.
My partnership with ICE in the Fresno County Jail has proven to be an effective process to identify those with criminal records who should be taken into federal custody. We will continue to work together in order to keep everyone in our community safe.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims
The purpose is to put pressure on legislators to expand sanctuary policies, deny assistance to federal immigration officials, including ICE, and withhold funds for deportations and border wall construction.
Valeska Sanchez, 38, of Fresno, joined the caravan tour at the beginning on Sunday and was the first to speak to the crowd. A custodian at Fresno Unified School District, Sanchez said she at one point in her life she was undocumented. “I came here as an immigrant and my mother too but we had the privilege back there in the ‘80s – we got amnesty. Now it’s just fair, for those who are not able to raise their voice, for us to raise our voice for them.”
The Wednesday morning protest drew about 75 people. Jasmine Romero, 19, of Fresno, came to support immigrant rights. One of seven children, she said her father was deported two years ago. “We faced homelessness for quite a while but my mother was able to get on her feet and give us housing.”
Her father has missed several milestone events, including her participation in the Miss Fresno County beauty pageant last month and her completion of basic training to become a member of the National Guard last summer. A brother, 17, wants to join the U.S. Army, she said. “It would have been nice if he had had the influence of a father.”