Woolsey holds hearing on immigration raids, kids

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who chairs the House Education and Labor Workforce Protections Subcommittee, gaveled a hearing today on the impact of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids on children and local communities.

Among those testifying was Kathryn Gibney, principal of San Pedro Elementary School in San Rafael, who spoke about immigration raids in the San Rafael’s Canal District in March 2007.

“Traumatized by the vicious nature of the intrusions and terrified to take their children to the bus stop, many families held their children at home, in hiding,” Gibney said, describing the raids. “Other parents, recognizing that school might be the safest place, enabled their children to go to school. One child whose father had just been taken away was told by her mother to pack some essentials in her backpack and leave it by the door so that if, when she returned home she found no one there, she could go to her aunt’s home just in case her mother was seized and deported. Imagine this child’s frame of mind as she left for school that day.”

“The impact of these raids has been devastating. Absentee rates have soared. Test scores have dropped. Students who do make it to school remain distracted as they worry about whether their families will be at home when they return. Families lose sleep at night as they worry about possible home interrogations. Families whose breadwinners have been seized are struggling to survive.”

Woolsey during the hearing blasted ICE for not enforcing voluntary guidelines calling for its officials to coordinate with local social service groups when raids are conducted of more than 150 immigrants. “Even though ICE put into place guidelines to ensure the humane treatment of people being detained when conducting raids, they are not being followed in a consistent fashion,” Woolsey said. “As a result, we are still hearing heartbreaking stories of the impact on children. Unless ICE follows humanitarian procedures in conducting these raids, we are still left with traumatized children and communities.”

“The testimony that we heard today, and the stories that many of us have heard from our constituents who have been affected by these raids, was heartbreaking, and often times difficult to hear,” Woolsey said at a press conference afterward. “We all recognize the need for a broader immigration policy. All that we’re asking for is that these enforcement activities are handled with care and that the needs of the most vulnerable among us, our children, be taken into account.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Sleepneat

    Their not serious? Why aren’t the parents of these “scared” children arrested for child endangerment for bringing them ILLEGALLY across the border and subjecting them to our law enforcement strategy? Have we no rights to enforce our laws? This is the madness of the Left and Democratic parties, why aren’t you blaming the law breakers for putting the kids in the situation? So give them amnesty and the will solve it all right?

    Are these law-makers really serious?

  • Teresa Barbour

    What is wrong with someone like Sleepneat? Have they no conscience? No concept of human rights, and humane treatment of human beings? Has George Bush’s “thug” mentality really encroached that deeply into the American psyche? Are they so unconsious that they are not aware that 90%+ of these children are American citizens? People like him ought to be sent to one of the countries that many of these families fled from for exactly this kind of violent, unrepresented, “Natziesk” treatment of the people in their home country.

    As for me, I applaud Congressman Woolsey’s investigation into this outrageous behavior by a branch of our government. There are better ways to accomplish enforcement, and it does not need to be at the expense of the well being of children. If the ICE cannot control it’s officers, their activities should be suspended until better policies are enacted.

    I would prefer the United States be at the forefront of a global mentality; acting as the world power we are by ensuring every child grows up wanting to make the entire world better: that means not growing up in fear. Hatred begins with fear and violence, and it is exactly that reason we should be protecting all of the children who are in this country from this type of experience, not narrow mindedly encouraging it.

  • Lou Charles

    Don’t ya just love the bleeding heart left – let’s do this for the children. If we have laws we should enforce them. People here illegally are law breakers. Are we supposed to give them a pass because they have children here? The concept of the anchor baby needs to be repealed.

  • DG

    GO ICE!

    People need to be held accountable for their actions. Apparently, the Democratics and extreme Left think that since Illegals have made it here, established jobs and other benefits, they are now de facto citizens with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. It boggles their small minds that Illegals are getting tax payer subsidies and taking money away from their children. But since the Left think the tax payers are an endless pit of revenue, they don’t apologize for their extreme views on Illegal Aliens. Case in fact, the San Francisco leadership of whom will issue ID cards and give City money to these Lawbreakers, despite having a <22 million dollar budget deficit? Now how damn silly is that?

    A “global mentality” will not work Teresa….sorry 🙁