Saturday, June 19, 2004 | 06/18/2004 | Rumors of S.J. raids on immigration denied | 06/18/2004 | Rumors of S.J. raids on immigration denied

Posted on Fri, Jun. 18, 2004
Rumors of S.J. raids on immigration denied
By Jessie Mangaliman
Mercury News

Rumors of recent immigration raids in San Jose are just that, officials said Friday, trying to calm ethnic communities worried by the arrest of hundreds of undocumented workers early this month in Southern California.

For the past week, many Latino and Asian immigrants have stayed at home, away from shopping centers and businesses. Dozens will not attend a national labor march scheduled today in San Francisco because they fear la migra, or immigration agents, said Salvador Bustamante, regional vice president for the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 in San Jose.

``The rumors have contributed to an atmosphere of fear and confusion,'' said Cary Sanders, policy director for Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network.

There were rumors of a roundup this week at Tropicana Shopping Center in East San Jose, reports of Mexican day laborers taken by plainclothes immigration agents, and word of another raid at a local grocery store. None of these were true, immigrant advocates said, even though they were widely reported by Spanish-language media.

Early this month, border patrol agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in sweeps in Ontario and Temecula. Those raids, particularly because they were conducted far from the U.S.-Mexico border, struck fear among many immigrants and fueled rumors that similar raids were made last week in San Jose with the help of local police, immigrant advocates said.

``We really and truly want the community to know that we're not acting as agents for the immigration service,'' said San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis, who spoke in Spanish and English at a news conference Friday at the Mayfair Community Center.

``That's not something we do. We're not interested in participating in any such raids or have we been doing so,'' Davis said.

Bruno Figueroa, consul general of the Mexican Consulate in San Jose, said regional border patrol officials told him that no raids have been conducted in Northern California.

``Our community is a safe place to live for all immigrants,'' said Martha Campos, citizenship director for Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network.

Campos said she and other immigrant advocates called the news conference to dispel the rumors about the raids.


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