We are deeply troubled by your vote against the San Mateo County ordinance regarding ICE cooperation in the county and ask you to reconsider your position. Preserving this ordinance — without amendments — is vital to keep all our communities safe. The ordinance ensures that everyone, including survivors or witnesses of violence, can come forward to receive the help they need without fear of discrimination or the threat of deportation. 

The amendments you proposed would only bring us backwards to a policy in place prior to 2021. For years, impacted families, faith leaders and residents across the county advocated to the Sheriff’s Office and Board of Supervisors about the pain that this past policy caused to separate and doubly punish immigrant communities. During the pandemic, San Mateo County was the worst culprit in the Bay Area in its collusion with ICE. After listening to hundreds of community voices, the former Sheriff made the right decision and ended his cooperation with ICE in November 2021. Supervisors Dave Canepa and David Pine’s ordinance, supported by Sheriff Christina Corpus, simply affirms a policy that is already in place. It’s time to move forward, and not go back to misguided policies that hurt our communities. 

Opponents of sanctuary policy, including the past administration, relied on criminalizing language to promote their anti-immigrant agenda. By doing so, they shift the focus away from systemic needs to improve the criminal justice system and mental health services, and instead cruelly scapegoat immigrants. Communities of color know that these are racialized, coded strategies. 

Your solitary “no” vote and proposed amendments signal a dangerous conflation between immigrants and criminality. And you are willing to ignore and forgo a much wider range of societal benefits that community members spoke out in favor of at the hearing on the ordinance, most importantly a sense of safety, security and protection that can be provided to immigrant communities, afforded by this ordinance.  

Numerous reputable studies demonstrate that  “crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.” In contrast, the evidence of indiscriminate harassment and rampant racial profiling of undocumented Latinx immigrants by local law enforcement agencies and ICE is abundant. Colluding with ICE harms immigrants from a variety of backgrounds, including legal permanent residents, visa holders, people with DACA who came to the U.S. as children, and refugees who fled war and genocide. In addition, a functioning immigration process does not exist; there is no way for most of our neighbors and loved ones to “get in line.” Most importantly, the county should not be colluding with an agency known for its human rights abuses and racist practices. We must put an end to a two-tiered system of justice that punishes our immigrant community solely based on their place of birth. 

You stated that you had not seen any data or statistics stipulating that undocumented immigrants do not report violent crimes out of the fear of their own deportation. Ironically, you answered your own question because this type of data or survey research pertinent to the safety and welfare of undocumented residents is difficult to obtain precisely due to the fear of undocumented immigrants having to disclose their identity. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated: 


“(L)ack of awareness of racial discrimination faced by migrants, compounded by a lack of disaggregated data by race, ethnicity, and migratory status, can keep such experiences invisible. The lack of trust in officials and institutions, caused by systemic and institutional discrimination, often prevents migrants from reporting human rights violations, abusive and exploitative practices or seeking health care, thus silencing their voices, contributing to further marginalization.”


We respectfully ask you to reconsider your vote and halt any efforts to amend

the ordinance, so that residents in District 3 can be confident that you will prioritize equal treatment and due process for everyone, including for our immigrant community. 

Rita Mancera is executive director of Puente. While on Puente letterhead, the piece was co-signed by 57 social justice-focused organizations across the Bay Area. It was originally addressed to San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller, who was the lone vote against the ordinance.

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(1) comment


The writer should have avoided the word "conflation" because her opinion piece is riddled with it.

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