Protecting Undocumented Workers in Gilroy

Brad Kava| Gilroy Dispatcher| Link to Article

ACTING TOGETHER Councilmembers Peter Leroe-Muñoz, Fred Tovar, Cat Tucker and Chief of Police Scot Smithee heard an impassioned plea from members of PACT.

ACTING TOGETHER Councilmembers Peter Leroe-Muñoz, Fred Tovar, Cat Tucker and Chief of Police Scot Smithee heard an impassioned plea from members of PACT.

A grassroots group of more than 50 Gilroyans was told that the city police department hasn’t and will not enforce federal immigration law Tuesday night at a meeting at South Valley Middle School.

Councilmembers Peter Leroe-Muñoz, Fred Tovar, Cat Tucker and Chief of Police Scot Smithee heard an impassioned plea from members of PACT, People Acting in Community Together, asking that they take action to protect undocumented workers.

PACT is a multicultural, multifaith organization that focuses on social justice and represents more than 50,000 people in Santa Clara County.

“The Chief really spoke to the issue in no uncertain terms that the police department doesn’t do immigration enforcement,” said Leroe-Muñoz afterwards. “That is not something they have done or will do.”

Leroe-Muñoz said the issue wasn’t so much about making Gilroy a “sanctuary city,” as it was about ensuring that all residents, documented or undocumented, are protected by police and the police are not enforcing federal laws.

They heard a moving plea from a middle school student who worried that his hard-working father would be deported and from community members who were afraid of the new immigration control office in Morgan Hill.

“I work with my father in the mornings and then he drops me off at school and I worry all day that he might be deported,” said Edwin Lopez.

Many said they feared living here under the threat of deportation.

“While hundreds of local governments across the country are establishing protection for undocumented immigrants in the face of increased ICE operations, Gilroy residents seek a city policy that clearly states such protection,” its agenda explained. “The opening of the ICE office in Morgan Hill has raised immigrant concerns in South County.”

In Gilroy, Latinos comprise nearly percent of the population and it is estimated that more than 10% of the total population is undocumented, the organization told representatives.

The organization asked for assurance from the Gilroy Police Department and the city council to protect undocumented workers from being deported.