A dozen protesters chanted outside a Tea Party California Caucus event on Saturday morning where Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims was being honored with the “Hero of Liberty” award.
The protesters faced off with several event attendees in the parking lot, including Susan Crosby of Fresno, who wore a red “Make California Great Again” hat and held a “We love ICE” sign.
Crosby said she supports Mims working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“To say that ICE is going after grandmothers sitting in their living rooms? No, they’re not,” she said. “We’re the real resistance. We’re against criminals, illegal aliens that think they can be in sanctuary in this state.”
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Jennifer Rojas, an organizer with the Services, Immigration Rights and Education Network, said her group of protesters hoped to attract attention to how Mims collaborates with ICE in the courthouse and jail to deport undocumented immigrants.
“It’s very obvious she’s not a hero in our community,” Rojas said.
The “Real Resistance Conference 2” began at 9 a.m. at the Wyndham Garden Fresno Airport Hotel. Organizers said Mims was in attendance, but she did not address the protesters.
The conference was titled “Back to What Works,” and aimed to teach conservatives “what is at stake, how media works, setting goals and strategies, recruiting volunteers, and defending conservative principles,” according to the agenda posted on its website.
Speakers included Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, and former California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro.
Ben Bergquam, who also confronted the protesters, said Mims is a friend and deserving of the award. “I support legal immigration, not illegal immigration,” he said. “It’s time we separate the two.”
Protester Ben McCloskey said the U.S. helped create a refugee crisis in Central America and South America. “And yet we wonder why people come here. They come here seeking asylum. They do hard work every day,” he said, referring to undocumented immigrants. “And we should be appreciative.”