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City of Berkeley Makes History, Says No To ICE Detainers

Berkeley – On Tuesday, October 30, the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a new detainer policy which will limit ICE collaboration with the Police Department.  The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley (C4SB) a group of civil rights advocates which includes immigrant’s rights organizations,  the Berkeley ACLU, and BOCA, was instrumental in making the case for the city’s decision to stop honoring ICE detainers.

The City Manager read the new policy, which was then voted on by the Berkeley City Council.  As the final vote was cast, a sudden burst of cheers filled the council chambers.  This new policy marks a major win for immigrants and puts Berkeley at the forefront of a larger fight to take on the failed S-COMM program which has deported more than 80,000 immigrants in California to date.

At the BOCA “Berkeley for All” Action on June 21, the question to support the immigrant community was posed to Mayor Tom Bates.  Mayor Bates agreed to working towards a Berkeley City detainer policy which uses as its baseline the policy adopted by Santa Clara County to ensure innocent immigrants are not ensnared by the failed and so called, Secure Communities “S-COMM” program.  The City Council decision went beyond the minimum agreement of a Santa Clara County detainer policy and decided against honoring detainers in general.

The new detainer policy states the following:

“The role of the Berkeley police Department is to reduce crime and protect public safety while respecting civil rights and liberties.  The Berkeley police Department will follow its normal rules and procedures irrespective of the immigration status of people with whom it has contact.  The Berkeley Police Department will not honor requests by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for detainers at the Berkeley Jail made for suspected violations of federal civil immigration law.”