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Humboldt County Sanctuary

Measure K aims to keep families together

An elderly woman with dementia taken away from her family by U.S Immigration and Custom Enforcement and deported. A young mother in her late 30s swept away by ICE and taken to a prison in Bakersfield for nine months even in spite of being here since she was five years old, married to a U.S. citizen and raising two children born as U.S. citizens.

Stories like these, where people are arrested for no other crime than lack of citizenship, are why Erik Kirk wrote local ballot Measure K.

“Criminal law and immigration law should be separate,” Kirk said.

Kirk, a lawyer, was asked by Centro Del Pueblo, a non-profit community service agency, to write a draft of an ordinance pertaining sanctuary for Humboldt county.

A sanctuary ordinance would prohibit local law enforcement from assisting federal immigration authorities with detainment. Typically sanctuary ordinances apply to cities rather than counties.

Kirk said Centro Del Pueblo proposed to the board of directors about making Humboldt county a sanctuary county, but they felt the board was unresponsive, so they asked him to write it for them.

Measure K, on the November ballot, would make Humboldt County a sanctuary county along with 30 sanctuary jurisdictions around the nation. Kirk said the measurement would be an extension of an existing law, AB54, which is a statewide ordinance that prohibits law authorities from cooperating with ICE.

“Our current laws are outdated and we need to change that,” Kirk said.

Measure K would help law enforcement by encouraging crime reporting and cooperation from the undocumented community. Immigrants may be more likely to consistently take children to school and access health care and vital services, affecting the overall greater community.

Kirk said the measurement will limit cooperation with ICE with just suspected immigration violation. The measurement will not in anyway prevent law enforcement with proceeding criminal provisions.

The Times Standard reported the ordinance would cost hundred of thousands of dollars. Kirk said this is a number he has no idea how it was calculated.

Sheriff William Honsal claimed he would have to track ICE deputies. Estimated tracking and reporting communications between ICE with new measurement would be between $85,000-$135,000. Kirk said this is false information.

Kirk said the probation department has to do the same tracking and reporting of communication with ICE as they do with the sheriff, and their estimates were $1250-$2500.

“I think the sheriff wants to deport whoever he wants and we think that isn’t right,” Kirk said.

Kelsey Reed, a member of the Humboldt Green Party and Move to Amend coalition, said the measurement allows parents to decide where their kids go when they get deported. As the law stands now, when parents are deported they are no longer able to make decisions where their children end up. Kids usually get left at home alone or taken to foster care.

“This is an overall humanity issue and several families have been destroyed because of ICE,” Reed said.

Reed said this is the most radical sanctuary ordinance proposed in a county. Through the ordinance, ICE would be required to only make certain arrests in certain areas and that parents wouldn’t be able to get arrested in front of their children.

Reverend Bryan Jessup is the minister of the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship which is one of the faith based organizations to support Measure K. Jessup’s congregations have been a sanctuary since June of 2017 and is a safe place for people subject to abuse from ICE.

Jessup said the congregation doesn’t want Humboldt County to be a part of what is going on around the country regarding immigration policy.

“We would like to stand up for humanity, our people are willing to shelter immigrants,” Jessup said.

Christi Molina, English senior, is a peer mentor at Scholars Without Borders who works closely with Centro Del Pueblo. Molina said the measurement would affect her personally because some of her family would be documented as immigrants.

Molina said the students in the area are supportive of the measurement and that makes her hopeful of it passing. They know the measurement is against separation of family and keeping communities intact.

“This is a way to not only keep family together but to respect human rights and culture,” Molina said.

Humboldt State University’s Undocu Week, a week of events dedicated to “deconstructing misrepresentations of communities of color,” takes place Oct. 1 – Oct. 5.

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