Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are detaining illegal immigrants this week on the Central Coast.
ICE agents went to homes in King City Monday, Soledad Wednesday, Santa Cruz Wednesday night, and Watsonville Thursday morning. They were also detentions in Salinas.
At least nine King City residents were taken into federal custody. The number of undocumented immigrants detained in Soledad, Santa Cruz, and Watsonville is unknown, police chiefs and sheriff’s commanders told KSBW.
Local police forces and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office are not cooperating with federal authorities or participating in the detentions.
ICE agents said they will continue detaining more residents around Watsonville over the next two days, Watsonville police Sgt. Brian Ridgeway said.
King City Police Chief Robert Masterson described the ICE action in his city as “criminal non-resident alien raids.”
ICE spokesman James Schwab said the agency’s goal is to remove dangerous criminals who are a threat to public safety.
Soledad Police Chief Eric Sills said ICE agents had a very specific list of names and addresses of criminals they were looking for.
“There are no knock-and-talks. They don’t just go, ‘knock knock are you legal?’ They were looking for specific people,” Sills told KSBW.
Soledad was the first city in Monterey County to declare itself as a “sanctuary city,” and Monterey County declared itself a “sanctuary county.”
However, Sills said he fully supports arresting criminals.
“If these are criminals, have at it. It’s the right thing to do,” Sills said.
Ridgeway said a woman showed up in the Watsonville police station’s lobby Thursday morning hoping to find out what happened to a family member who was taken away.
Ridgeway echoed what other law enforcers across the Central Coast told KSBW about this week’s raids: ICE is not providing police departments or the sheriff’s office with any information, other than to say, federal agents are here and working in the area.
“They don’t tell us, and we don’t ask,” Ridgeway said.
“We didn’t know anything about it. We were told after the fact,” Monterey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. John Thornburg said.
A father of two who was arrested at 5 a.m. Thursday in his Watsonville home had been previously deported from the U.S. in 2010, witnesses said. Another person was taken away from their workplace in Santa Cruz Wednesday night.
Schwab declined to say how many illegal immigrants were detained on the Central Coast this week.
“ICE deportation officers conduct enforcement actions every day around the country and here in Northern California as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to uphold national security, public safety and border security. The agency’s operations are targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities. For operational security reasons, however, we don’t discuss ongoing or future operations publicly,” Schwab said.
Anyone seeking to find out what happened to a detained family member or friend should call ICE.
No one at the Salinas Police Department returned phone calls from KSBW seeking comment.