Tag Archives: Immigration

For some immigrants in Berkeley and beyond: What now?

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By Hana Boston

As the dust starts to settle after the presidential election, millions of immigrants all over the country are left wondering: what happens now?

No big surprise there. Listening to President-elect Trump’s campaign speeches, along with his recent appointment as attorney general of Senator Jeff Sessions, a staunch opposer of amnesty, one can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding and trepidation about what changes might be in store for the immigrant community after Trump takes office in January.

In the days after the election, my Berkeley-based immigration law firm has received what feels like non-stop calls from clients and their families wanting to know what they can do to protect themselves now against the wide, sweeping immigration reform that may take place under a Trump administration.

While still too early to predict exactly what changes will happen, there are things immigrants living and working in and around the Berkeley area can do now to protect themselves against potential changes in immigration laws and policies in the coming months. … Continue reading »


Berkeley Mayor-elect, council members reaffirm city’s sanctuary status

Arreguin press conference Nov. 22. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín held a press conference Tuesday to make clear that he and the City Council will ensure the city remains a sanctuary city, offering protection to immigrants and undocumented residents.

“There’s a great deal of fear in our community,”Arreguín said, standing on the steps of City Hall alongside many city council members, the president of the Berkeley Unified School Board, and Mary Nicely, representing Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. The Council will propose a resolution at its next meeting, councilwoman Lori Droste said, reaffirming Berkeley’s status as a city of refuge.

Tuesday’s statements were in response to threats made by President-elect Donald Trump to penalize, through the withdrawal of federal funds, cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to officials.

A forum on immigration rights will be held tonight, Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Berkeley — scroll down for details.

Berkeley is one of more than 300 self-described sanctuary cities around the country. The City Council declared Berkeley to be a City of Refuge in 1971 and has had occasion to re-affirm that status several times since, including in 2007 during local raids by the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and in 2015 when the city said it would welcome Syrian refugees.  … Continue reading »

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Rodrigo thanks classmates for efforts to bring him home

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Community members crammed into the Berkeley City Council chambers Tuesday night to speak out about the absence of 9-year-old Rodrigo Guzman, a Jefferson Elementary School student who was sent back to Mexico with his family in January when they were denied re-entry into the United States due to expired visas. Jefferson students read statements to the council, which later unanimously approved a resolution to fight for the family’s return.

The resolution includes a commitment to send letters to President Barack Obama, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Dianne Feinstein urging them to write special legislation to grant assistance to the family. The Berkeley Unified School District unanimously passed a similar resolution March 13.

Rodrigo and his family joined the council meeting via a Skype video connection, which Mayor Tom Bates said was a first for Berkeley. (Watch the video of Rodrigo’s statement here.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley says ‘no’ to federal immigration detainers

A battle for immigrants' rights has been intensifying throughout 2012, as deportations linked to Secure Communities have risen. Here, protestors outside an ICE processing facility in Colorado call for an end enforcement efforts. Photo: Justin Valas
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In a surprising twist, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to decline requests from U.S. immigration officials to apply more stringent detention rules to arrested individuals depending on citizenship status.

Advocates in attendance said the council made a landmark policy decision believed to be the most comprehensive and definitive in the nation as far as refusing altogether to cooperate with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program to detain and potentially deport non-citizens who are arrested.

The decision will, at least initially, have a limited impact given that the vast majority of these individuals ultimately are turned over to county agencies that do cooperate with the feds. Advocates said they believe, however, that the decision will have a ripple effect throughout the state to convince other jurisdictions to take a similar stand. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds rally in Berkeley to protest Pacific Steel layoffs

Several hundred people gathered at Old City Hall for a rally before the protest march. Photo: Lance Knobel
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On a bright, sunny day, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Berkeley’s Old City Hall to rally against the immigration laws that prompted the firing of 200 Pacific Steel Casting workers in December last year. Many of the fired workers and their families were joined by members of the teachers’ union, the nurses’ union, clergymen and women and other sympathizers. Following the rally, protesters were to march to the Pacific Steel site in west Berkeley.

Last February, the Department of Homeland Security demanded I-9 forms for all 600 employees of the family-owned steel casting business in West Berkeley. The company and the GMP union worked together to keep workers employed while the DHS examined their residency status. In October, Pacific Steel began to lay off the 200 workers.

“I worked for Pacific Steel for seven years and I was one of the 200 fired,” said Jesus Prado at the rally this morning. “This March for Dignity is because we want to stop the way they’re stepping on us, and treating us like criminals. We came here to work.” … Continue reading »

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