ICE spokesman in SF resigns and slams Trump administration officials

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

ICE spokesman in SF resigns and slams Trump administration officials

  • A spokesman in San Francisco’s division of ICE resigns
  • He says statements from ICE acting director and Jeff Sessions were ‘misleading’

San Francisco (CNN)James Schwab, a spokesman for the San Francisco Division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has resigned, citing what he says are falsehoods being spread by members of the Trump administration including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I just couldn’t bear the burden — continuing on as a representative of the agency and charged with upholding integrity, knowing that information was false,” he told CNN on Monday.
Schwab cited Acting Director Tom Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as being the purveyors of misleading and inaccurate information, following Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s controversial decision to warn the community of an upcoming ICE raid.
ICE released a press release on February 27 about the operations in Northern California in which Homan stated that “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”
Sessions also repeated a similar estimate in his remarks while visiting Sacramento last week.
“Those are 800 wanted criminals that are now at large in that community — 800 wanted criminals that ICE will now have to pursue with more difficulty in more dangerous situations, all because of one mayor’s irresponsible action,” Sessions had said.
Schwab said he took issue with their characterization.
“Director Homan and the Attorney General said there were 800 people at large and free to roam because of the actions of the Oakland Mayor,” he told CNN. “Personally I think her actions were misguided and not responsible. I think she could have had other options. But to blame her for 800 dangerous people out there is just false.”
“It’s a false statement because we never pick up 100% of our targets. And to say they’re a type of dangerous criminal is also misleading.”
Schwab said he brought up his concerns to ICE leadership and was told to “deflect to previous statements. Even though those previous statements did not clarify the wrong information.”
“I’ve never been in this situation in 16 almost 17 years in government where someone asked me to deflect when we absolutely knew something was awry — when the data was not correct” he said.
The Oakland mayor said in response to the former spokesman speaking out, “I commend Mr. Schwab for speaking the truth while under intense pressure to lie. Our democracy depends on public servants who act with integrity and hold transparency in the highest regard.”
Schwab also said he is a registered Democrat, but has been a loyal federal servant, regardless of which party is in power.
CNN has reached out to ICE in Washington and the Department of Justice for comment.

Forced Out: When Leaving the Country Means Leaving Your Kids Behind

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KQED NEWS)

 

Forced Out: When Leaving the Country Means Leaving Your Kids

Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a Highland Hospital nurse in Oakland, and her husband this week ended their fight to remain in the U.S. after federal immigration authorities denied a last-ditch plea to stay.

Maria, her husband Eusebio Sanchez, and their 12-year-old son, Jesus, boarded a flight at San Francisco International Airport for Mexico City less than an hour before a federal deportation order expired late Wednesday for the couple — leaving behind their three daughters, two of them adults and one a teenager.

Maria Mendoza-Sanchez sits on a couch in her Oakland home on Aug. 16, 2017, hours before she, her husband and son leave Oakland for Mexico City. Her daughter, Melin Sanchez, 21, cries as she watches her mother with concern. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Sanchez spent her last day in the U.S. doing somewhat routine things: She took her daughter, Elizabeth, 16, to her first day of school as a sophomore and she went to the bank.

But she did some out-of-the-ordinary things, too: She granted power of attorney to her eldest daughter, Vianney, 23. She packed her belongings. And she put her nursing uniforms into a storage box.

“I’m sorry I won’t be there to serve them anymore,” she said of her patients in the oncology and cardiology unit of Highland Hospital, Alameda County’s trauma center. “But one day I will be back, that’s for sure.”

Eusebio Sanchez supports his wife, Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, in their Oakland home on Aug. 16, 2017, hours before they leave for Mexico City after federal immigration authorities denied their request for a reprieve. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The couple came to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, settling in Oakland in 1994. Maria graduated from Holy Names University with a nursing degree while raising their children. Eusebio worked in construction and eventually became a truck driver.

The couple have no criminal records, and have been undocumented during their time in the U.S. Vianney is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while their three younger kids are U.S. citizens.

“Fighting an immigration case when you are a Mexican is really three times as difficult as it is other communities,” Maria said as she tried to hold back tears. “It doesn’t matter how hard you work. It doesn’t matter what you do.”

Melin Sanchez, 21, cries as she hugs a neighbor who lives across the street. People drop by the Oakland home on Aug. 16, 2017, hours before Melin’s mother and father leave for Mexico City after federal immigration authorities rejected their last-ditch appeal to stay. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Under the Obama administration, the couple received two stays, along with legal work visas, to remain in the U.S. But when they applied for another stay in May 2017, federal immigration officials limited it to 90 days — after which they would be deported.

The family was hoping for a reprieve with the help of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. But on Tuesday afternoon, Feinstein called to tell them that federal immigration agents had denied their request for another stay, the senator’s office said.

“All possible avenues to delay their departure have been denied by the Trump administration in what I believe is an act utterly devoid of humanity,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This is a travesty, plain and simple, and evidence that Donald Trump’s immigration ‎policy is nothing more than a hateful deportation program targeting law-abiding families. It’s shameful and stands against the very ideals upon which this country was founded.”

Melin Sanchez, right, is comforted by a friend as they listen to Sanchez’s mother, Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, talk to the press hours before she, her husband and their son leave for Mexico City on Aug. 16, 2017. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

In a statement to KQED from  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Western Region, the agency confirmed the denial. But ICE added that it gave the couple enough time “to get their personal affairs in order and make preparations for their departure.”

Sanchez said she and her husband prepared their three daughters for life without them in the U.S.: Vianney, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, will be the legal guardian of Elizabeth as she finishes high school. Their middle daughter, Melin, 21, will stay to finish her last year at UC Santa Cruz.

In Maria’s last hours before flying to Mexico City, Elizabeth came home from her first day of school. She sat on the couch next to her mom and rested her head on her mom’s shoulder.

The two discussed her first day of school — knowing moments like these were coming to an end.

Maria said she also had a conversation with her kids that a parent doesn’t ever think they’ll have.

“Yes, indeed, you separate from your parents but you don’t have to worry about rent, you don’t have to worry about food, and then you’ll be able to finish school,” she recalled telling her daughters.

Luggage for Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, her husband Eusebio, and their 12-year-old son, Jesus, stacked near the door of their Oakland home on Aug. 16, 2017. They left for Mexico City late Wednesday after living in the U.S. for more than 20 years. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Though she is having to leave, Sanchez said what she’s taking with her to Mexico — her memories — no one can take away.

“Because it’s in my heart and it’s in my mind,” she said.

Photos of the Sanchez family and a sign about nursing decorate a shelf in their home in Oakland on Aug. 16, 2017. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

9 Dead, 25 Missing In Fire At Oakland Party

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SFGATE NEWS AND THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE)

9 dead, 25 missing in fire at Oakland party

Updated 8:14 am, Saturday, December 3, 2016

Firefighters in Oakland this morning are investigating a three-alarm structure fire that occurred Friday night and reportedly involved casualties.

Media: @OaklandFireLive

At least nine people were killed and a total of 25 people were unaccounted for after a fire broke out at a party at an artist collective in Oakland, authorities said.

The fire broke out late Friday night at 31st Avenue and International Boulevard, north of Interstate 880, in the Fruitvale neighborhood.

“We’ve done a preliminary search and we are up to nine known fatalities,” said Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, who responded to the scene. “There’s still a still a lot of the building that needs to be searched.”

As the fire engulfed the massive building, people streamed into the street outside. The roof collapsed, and firefighters had difficulty getting inside.

On social media, friends of the victims and the many missing partygoers desperately sought information.

Authorities were asking those who had information about missing people to contact the Alameda County coroner’s office and in some cases relay details.

“Right now there’s 25 names of people who have not been accounted for,” said Deloach Reed. “We’re not sure if they have already self-transported to the hospital or they have gone to friend’s home. We’re not sure.”

The rave party was scheduled from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday, and dozens of people were inside when the fire exploded.

Deloach Reed said most of the people who died were on the second floor, which was accessible by a “makeshift stairwell.” There was no evidence of a sprinkler system, she said.

“We know it was going to be difficult if it started anywhere near that stairwell,” the chief said of efforts to flee and attempts by firefighters to rescue people.

It was not immediately clear what ignited the fire or where exactly it started, the chief said. She said a multi-agency task force was gathering to investigate the fire and take up the task of recovering victims.

“The building is a huge building,” Deloach Reed said. “There’s going to have to be a methodical way we go about body recovery, and then also trying to find out where the fire started and how the fire’s spread took place. … We have not done a complete search of the building.”

As she spoke, the building was scarred by black burn marks. Firefighters were on a portion of the roof examining the damage. No firefighters have been reported injured.

On a Facebook page associated with the building, people posted names of friends that were unaccounted for, hoping to hear good news. One message said, “Prayers to all the beautiful people lost in this fire, and prayers for the ones who have survived.”

A party listing detailed musical acts and deejays. It said a “secret East Oakland location” was to be be announced on the same day as the event. Tickets were $10 before 11 p.m., and $15 after that.

The fire chief said the scope of the fire was only just beginning to be fathomed, and that it represented a tragedy for many families.

“It’s going to hit the city, it’s going to hit our organization, to have an incident of this type, of this magnitude,” she said. “It’s just going to be hard on everyone.”

Hamed Aleaziz is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @haleaziz

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