San Francisco braces for possible immigration raids

Legal experts provide advice on how to handle ICE raids

Local immigration lawyers and activists are bracing for possible raids across the city after President Trump signed executive order aiming to block federal funding to sanctuary cities. 

Sanctuary city is a term used for cities that do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status, follow certain procedures that shelter undocumented immigrants and don’t allow municipal resources to further enforcement of federal immigration laws. 

As fears loom over possible  US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids the city is gearing up by training its residents on how to respond during an ICE raid: “We saw that people power works, we saw what happened at San Francisco airport. So what we need to think about is how do we build a public campaign around deportation?,”  said Lorena Melgarejo of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. Melgarejo was addressing around a hundred people who had gathered for a  rapid response network training at St.Agnes Church.  

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Melgarejo emphasised the importance of having a network of supporters: “When your mother is about to be deported you are in shock you need someone who can sit down with you and work on a strategy. May be not everyone can be a first responder but everyone can provide company and help. Think of practical things like cooking meals, help the family get legal representation and so on,” she said. 

People of all ages were in the audience, most of them diligently taking notes as Melgarejo narrated stories of undocumented immigrants who have faced deportations or have been approached by ICE  and explained ways in which the community could help. 

“I think it is important to know that even though you want to help it is not about you. At that moment it’s about the person and what they’re going through, So I have to be there for that person,” said Nicole Taylor, a San Francisco resident and public school teacher.

‘What to do during an ICE raid?’ 

Attorneys Luis Angel Reyes Savalza and Nilou Khonsari of Pangea Legal Services conducted a legal training to help people understand their legal rights as observers. 

“For far too long ICE has become accustomed to picking up people at 5 or 6 in the morning. For far too long they’ve become accustomed to ripping families apart from their own homes without a warrant, taking them to courts and have them deported. For far too long it has all happened in the dark,” Savalza said. 

Savalza spoke about his personal story of coming to the United States as an undocumented child: “When Trump got elected my mother was terrified until she saw the outpouring of protestors at San Francisco airport. It was then she turned to me and said ‘they like us, they want us to stay here we will be fine’,” he said. 

So what should one look out for?:

Here’s what the advisors told people:

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  • ICE officers can not enter a property without a warrant. 
  • The warrant needs to clearly state the individual’s name. 
  • It should have the individuals address. 
  • It should be signed by a Judge. 


  • Write down the badge number of the officer (if you can).
  • Film the interaction and make sure to keep the focus on the ICE officers. 
  • Take notes of any sign of officers being forceful, for example if they push open a door, pull out identification cards from the individual being questioned, make possible false statements to get individual to share information about their status, take an individuals personal belongings without a warrant or make homophobic or racial slurs. 


  • Do not engage with an ICE officer. 
  • Do not interfere during the raid. 
  • Do not start speaking to the individual being questioned because you might risk them sharing more information that they shouldn’t be without a warrant. 
  • Document in detail rather than summarising. 
  • Minimal compliance in case officer addresses you. 
Attorneys  Nilou Khonsari and Luis Angel Reyes Savalza
Attorneys Nilou Khonsari and Luis Angel Reyes Savalza of Pangea Legal Services conducted a legal training to help people understand their legal rights as observers. Photo by Sana Saleem.

Khonsari emphasized the importance of documentation to help with legal proceedings: “We’ve had cases where judges have dismissed the case because there was enough documentation to prove that ICE acted outside of the law.  I do want to emphasize that people should not publish notes, video or photos online. Please always provide the information to legal teams and let them decide if information can be partially used for advocacy,” she said. 

Erika (last name withheld) attended the training and took notes: “After the elections a lot of people have come out on the streets, people are asking others to join the protests to help protect marginalized communities. I too feel that I can put my body on the line for people who are being discriminated,” she said. 

Throughout the trainings speaker emphasized the history of deportations: “These families are no longer nameless as they’ve been for the past eight years,” Melgarejo said. 

Maria (last name withheld) said that she attended the training to better understand how to respond to ICE raids: “I am here because I am daughter of immigrants who were once undocumented,” she said Trump’s executive order brought focus to an issue that the immigrant community has faced for a long time: “People don’t realize that this is a situation that has been ongoing way before Trump, so it is time to organize and act,” she said. 


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  • Hexagon

    Brace for definite loss of Federal grant funding.

    • MissNormaDesmond

      Yeah, given that CA contributes more than any other state to the Federal budget, that will be fun to watch, should Trump attempt it.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Fed TRUMPS state every single time. Have fun girlfriend!

  • Rosh HoshHosh

    Good info. I wonder, if it’s not your name on the warrant, are you are required to show ID because there is a warrant for the address?

    Also, it would be cool if the attorneys who presented the seminar would be willing to make a letter headed documents -specifically to hand ICE agents who come to someone’s home – that states the inhabitants of the house are represented by said attorney, that the inhabitants would like their attorney present before answering any questions, and that the inhabitants are going to video record the search, as instructed by their attorney. Could save some hassle ..

    • 999Greg

      There are **ZERO** commonly carried American ID’s that state citizenship. Yea, I know — passport— but that is not commonly carried here, even by those that have them.

  • 4th Gen SF

    The only people being deported are criminals. Having a hysterical fit is not going to help, and the left should not be supporting criminals.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      Hysterical fits probably won’t help anyone, but protests and objections, on the other hand, have shown to be an extremely effective tool for change.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Yes like the violent one at UCB & UCD against a Jewish gay man named Milo. Yes that really is helping the left’s side.

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          I could give two fucks about this whole left vs right thing you have going, but I’m with you on the ridiculousness regarding the protest against the Breitbart guy. I don’t know why it’s important to you that he’s a gay Jew, but those destructive protests were a lot to do about nothing.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Agree & since you’re Jewish, as well as me & Milo, I’m proud of you. Now, if you could only see how the left is completely hateful towards us.

          • Michael Andrade

            Milo is allied with the alt-right Neo-Nazis, so cry me a river.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Not with NAZIs. Sheesh, read Milo at the raw source not what the MSM tells you.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            I’m not Jewish and I didn’t know the Hebrew translations of my name until I was 21.

            I view Milo as an inciter and a divider. He relishes in his minor celebrity status and I don’t take him seriously.

      • 4th Gen SF

        The news is saying the ones that are being deported are the pedophiles. CNN said this. Pls tell me you’re not defending the pedos & also begs the question why OBAMA did not deport the pedos.

        • MissNormaDesmond

          Bull. Link or GTFO.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Not going anywhere. Use google.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            I’m assuming you heard about the Milo clip that came out today:

            I’m not defending pedophiles (there you go), but it turns out you inadvertently were. It was obvious all along Milo was a dipshit, but after watching the video it’s now obvious that he has a penchant for young boys. I’d be more discerning if I were you.

          • 4th Gen SF

            He said older men & younger men. He did not specify age. I saw this last night & already formed my opinion about it.

          • Rosh HoshHosh


          • 4th Gen SF

            He’s having a press conference tomorrow. Watch it. BTW, David Bowie was a nazi for 10+ years. Still worship him? Look it up, it’s documented.

    • sister_h

      Insisting that people’s rights be respected and that the laws protecting their constitutional rights be followed is not the same thing as an hysterical fit. Right?

      • 4th Gen SF

        Right bc 150 out of 160 that were arrested were sexual predators. We should just keep them here. Right?

  • Savvyheat

    I’m not understanding the push back on this. Aren’t the laws on the books simply being enforced? What am I missing here?

    • Do Something Nice

      Exactly. Why the big deal about Anne Frank? She was an ‘illegal’ and that family should have turned her in right away.

      • Savvyheat

        Isn’t sarcasm the last refuge of a defeated wit?

        • Do Something Nice

          No. It is an effective tool to inform the ignorant and make them look ridiculous at the same time.

          • Savvyheat

            (Sigh)—Sarcasm is the last refuge of the powerless.

          • Sonia S. Bolanos

            and irony the resort of the oppressor

          • MissNormaDesmond

            When you say something as disingenuous as “Aren’t the laws on the books simply being enforced?”, don’t be shocked when people don’t respond earnestly. Rosa Parks’s arrest was an enforcement of laws that were on the books, so the idea that simply because something is law it isn’t problematic is already questionable. Given the fact, though, that the article above clearly refers to cases in which ICE has acted unlawfully, it seems pretty obvious that you’re ignoring what you don’t want to notice. You may not care about the Fourth Amendment, but many of the rest of us are kind of fond of it, and don’t take kindly to seeing it violated.

          • Savvyheat

            You know what’s Really Disingenuous? Making a knowingly false equivalent. Equating an American icon Rosa Parks, with people who have come to this country illegally and chosen to subvert the law. That said, ICE is acting not on President Trumps initiative, but on President Obama’s order—this crackdown was planned months ago—so maybe take up your frustration with him. As to the Fourth Ammendment, I’m fairly confident you know that refers to American Citizens and not Immigration law breakers—but that probably doesn’t comport with your narrative.

          • MissNormaDesmond

            Rosa Parks chose to subvert an unjust law. This is precisely what she did. You may be insufficiently versed in history to recognize this, but it’s still true. You don’t like the equivalency. That doesn’t make it false.

            Please provide some support for your claim that these raids were on President Obama’s orders. President Trump has issued multiple Executive Orders since taking office involving undocumented immigrants, in particular the one on January 25th regarding Border Security and Immigration Enforement Improvements. For ICE and CBP still to be acting on directives from President Obama would be bizarre.

          • Savvyheat

            Well, my grasp of history or what I like or dislike is irrelevant.

            American born Rosa Parks, chose to subvert American law. In this case you have foreigners who broke into the country subverting American law—that makes it a poor comparison—an absolutely nonsensical example of moral equivalency. It’s not even close.

            In terms of the ongoing ICE raids, quotes below from current and former ICE officials show they’re CLEARLY Obama administration decisions. They had NOTHING to do with Trump’s order. They were planned,coordinated and implemented MONTHS ago and resemble raids carried out in 2014,2015 and 2016 under Obama.

            1) David Marin, ICE Director Los Angeles says “They’re the direct result of an operation planned before the administration came out with their current executive orders”. (Source: Chicago Tribune,LA Times,NBC News)

            2) Leticia Zamarripa ICE spokewoman El Paso said “The focus of these operations is no different than routine targeted arrests by ICE Fugitive Operations Teams” (Source: New Mexico Politics)

            3) Former ICE Director John Sandweg says “The Obama administration had prioritized expulsion of undocumented immigrants who threatened public safety or national security, (Source: CNN)

            4) Gillian Christensen (Obama Appointed press secretary Homeland Security): “These are existing, established ICE fugitive operations teams conducting scheduled ICE operations” (Source: TIME)

          • 999Greg

            That applies to citizens thing (truth of that specific argument is another subject) is really problematic. A sweeping raid **will** net those who are here legally — both green card and citizen— fourth amendment does apply.

            “Oooo-ooo-ooo! There’s one of “those” people going in that yard! Let’s go bust down the door, trash the house doing a “search”, taze anybody that dares question us, and rudely cuff/ drag off everybody there!” —- Your house —- and the 4th doesn’t apply because THEY CLAIM there *might* be a non-citizen there?

            Silly girl (or boy)!

          • sister_h

            Rosa Parks was breaking a law and was arrested by the police. Her actions were “illegal.” Why do you think she’s an American icon? It’s because she broke that law.

            My grandparents were not allowed to apply for naturalization because it was illegal to apply if you were an Asian. It was a racist law.

            The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 made it illegal to help runaway slaves, and illegal to be a runaway slave. Would you help a runaway slave, or would you turn them in, no problemo?

          • 4th Gen SF

            So only enforce laws that you as an SJW agree with. Other laws should be thrown out that you disagree with.

    • 999Greg

      Perhaps you missed that the training was specifically aimed at documenting wether or not the laws are being enforced as they should be.

      • Savvyheat

        Not understanding your point. Are you agreeing, disagreeing…indifferent? Please Expound.

        • 999Greg

          If you are calling the training the pushback, which is the way I read your post, then I am disagreeing with you. The training was to check that the law being enforced properly.

          If you are calling those objecting to the training as pushback, then I agree with you

          • Savvyheat

            Please see my post above complete with explanations, sourcing and ICE officials quotes.

          • 999Greg

            Read it — the which POTUS did it isn’t part of my consideration (except perhaps to point out that it isn’t just the current one).

            I consider your “absolutely nonsensical example of moral equivalency” bounces right back at you. “The Law” and the morality of enforcement style are frequently at odds — suspicion does not justify immoral behavior of any LEO.

    • 4th Gen SF

      If you’re in CA, look for us on FB – California State Politics – about 3300 ppl in it. TY. Many/most from SFBA.

    • sister_h

      Fred Korematsu was “illegal” when he was picked up by the police. The U.S. government, in violation of the U.S. Constitution decided that he was guilty by reason of race and therefore his presence in California was “illegal.”

      Be more discerning. Notice the arbitrariness of bureaucratic designations. Stand up for what’s right.

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  • curiousKulak

    It still remains uncertain whether these ICE actions are a change in procedure or caterwauling from the Left.

    Obama was the Deporter-in-Chief for the last 50? yrs; albeit mostly those with criminal convictions. New reports (NPR) have stated that some are being deported for simply not having Docs (and being in the wrong place at the wrong time).

    If ICE starts to use tools like DACA lists and such to ID and locate “illegals”, that would be a major upset of trust and huge inpact on the economy.

    • 4th Gen SF

      The only people being deported are criminals. 150 of the 160 taken in S CA were pedophiles. The left is nuts.

      • MissNormaDesmond

        What is your proof for this claim?

        • 4th Gen SF

          LA TIMES. Google it.