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Video: Questions from Public Lead Santa Cruz Police Chief to Admit ICE Agent Embedded in SCPD
At the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on February 28, questions from members of the public, and subsequently those of Vice Mayor David Terrazas and Council Member Sandy Brown, prompted Chief of Police Kevin Vogel to admit there has been an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent embedded in the Santa Cruz Police Department for years, despite the fact that by law, Santa Cruz is a Sanctuary City. The questions were part of the massive public outcry following the ICE raids conducted in Santa Cruz County on February 13, in which SCPD participated. [Top video: Edited video containing Chief Vogel's admission, and the questions from the public leading up to it. Scroll down for video (two parts) of the entire Sanctuary discussion during the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on February 28.]
On February 13, Beach Flats residents reported hearing helicopters overhead and the explosions of flash grenades. According to ICE, eleven locations were raided in Santa Cruz, Daly City, and Watsonville that day as part of an investigation into gang activity in which ten people were arrested. In addition to those arrests made during the raids, however, ICE says authorities encountered eleven undocumented individuals outside of their investigation who were detained on immigration violations.
Chief Vogel claimed SCPD cooperated with ICE on February 13 only because police thought the raids were to target violent gang members, and that ICE lied about their intention to detain non-criminal undocumented individuals.
"In this operation, HSI has violated and betrayed our community's trust," Santa Cruz Police said in a post on their blog on February 23. "SCPD leadership is reaching out to immigrant neighbors and associate groups to reassure the community that the police department will not intentionally participate in these types of raids."
Chief Vogel's claim was contradicted by a statement made by James Schwab, ICE Spokesman for the San Francisco Office: "Several days prior to the operation, our Special Agent-in-Charge office notified the Santa Cruz Chief of Police that any non-targeted foreign nationals encountered during the enforcement actions at the search and arrest locations would be held briefly until determinations could be made about their identities and case histories. The Chief acknowledged this possibility and it was agreed that no foreign nationals would enter the Santa Cruz Police Department’s facility or their police vehicles"
According to the ICE website, the agency has an annual budget of approximately $6 billion, which is primarily devoted to two operational directorates: Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Video includes initial SCPD presentation on the February 13 raid, and questions from council members.
Video includes public comment period, followed by questions from council members, and then Chief Vogel's admission. Video concludes with the passage of an updated Sanctuary ordinance by the council.