‘Bellingham, Washington, should become a Sanctuary City’ / Facebook post, Vote Von for the Peoples of – por las Gentes de – Bellingham

Click the graphic to access Von Emeth Ochoa’s video with accompanying transcription on his Vote Von for the Peoples of – por las Gentes de – Bellingham Facebook page

July 2, 2019 Von Emeth Ochoa, Candidate for Bellingham City Council, Council At-Large position

Bellingham, Washington, should become a Sanctuary City. In no uncertain terms.

Reading Aloud: Things I learned from the forwarded documents from Community 2 Community/Comunidad a Comunidad and a letter from Sheriff Elfo from 2017, forwarded to me by https://noisywatersnw.com/

~~ Video Transcription~~:

June 30th, 2019, Sunday. The time is 19:04 Pacific Standard Time. Von Ochoa here, for the peoples – por las gentes de Bellingham, Washington. Review and Study Session Episode 04. Tonight’s focus will be on Sanctuary City. I would like to state that I believe that Bellingham, Washington should be a Sanctuary City. In no uncertain terms.
On Friday, I went to the Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival at the Fairhaven Green. I went over to the Community 2 Community – Comunidad a Comunidad – booth and I tried to ask good questions. I tried to take in as much information as possible. Later, I was forwarded some information. 3 pieces of information that I’m going to read out loud to you now. I’m a bit of an auditory learner and a kinesthetic learner, so hearing things really helps me out. So, I’ll begin with a piece that was forwarded to me by NoisyWatersNW. 

Sheriff Elfo’s Letter To Citizens Regarding Cooperation With DHS-ICE

March 30, 2017. By Jeff Parks.

March 30th, 2017

Earlier this month I learned from the news media that Whatcom County, along with many other counties in Washington, is listed on a federal web-site as having “enacted policies which limit cooperation Immigration and Customs Enforcement” (ICE), a component agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is in the interest of public safety that the Sheriff’s Office cooperates with ICE to ensure an orderly transfer of criminal aliens to federal custody after the resolution of state charges. The Sheriff’s Office has a long history of doing just this. Whatcom County’s designation as “non-cooperative” does not reflect the practices we have adopted to ensure cooperation with ICE or a decision of a federal court within our 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that set forth constitutional requirements and limitations.

By way of background, ICE formerly issued “detainer requests” asking the Sheriff’s Office hold persons meeting federal criminal alien criteria for up to 24 hours beyond the time they were scheduled to be released from the county jail. A federal court within our 9th Federal Circuit (Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County April 2014) held that the practice of detaining criminal aliens on ICE issued detainer requests beyond the time of their scheduled release from the county jail on state charges without a warrant violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In this case, the Sheriff of Clackamas County Oregon and Clackamas County were held liable for facilitating an ICE detainer request. The federal government did not intervene in the lawsuit nor defend nor indemnify the County for damages or the cost of litigation.

Following the court decision, I consulted with the Whatcom Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. It was concluded that continuing the practice of honoring non-judicially issued detainer requests by holding persons beyond their scheduled release time would subject Whatcom County and our deputies to liability for civil rights violations. I responded to this decision and adjusted our policy to conform to the law. To the best of my knowledge, other sheriffs throughout the state have done the same.

From the perspective of cooperating with the component agencies of DHS with respect to their responsibilities for taking custody of “criminal aliens,” the Sheriff’s Office does fully cooperate. The term “criminal alien” is defined by United States Code and generally includes “any alien” who is convicted of a serious criminal offense. State law requires that I cooperate with ICE in ascertaining jail inmates’ citizenship and provide information regarding confinement and sentences. Federal agents regularly review the jail roster to identify criminal aliens committed to the county jail.

To ensure public safety and legal requirements, I consulted with DHS component agencies immediately after the 2014 court decision. The Sheriff’s Office and local agents agreed on a workable solution. I agreed to detain persons at the request of federal authorities if the federal agency presents a warrant. As inmates charged with serious offenses are usually held in jail for some time, there should generally be time for agents to obtain a warrant as required by the federal court. Federal authorities can also arrange to be within the secure area of the jail at the time of the person’s scheduled release and take the person into custody as he or she prepares to leave the facility. The Sheriff’s Office further cooperates by providing notification of release times to federal agents so an orderly transfer of custody can occur. With the number and availability of federal agents assigned to Whatcom County, this has not presented any logistical issues within our jurisdiction and all requested transfers have taken place.

The Sheriff’s Office works very closely with DHS on a daily basis on criminal matters and locally maintains an excellent working relationship with our federal partners. Federal agents and the Sheriff’s deputies often have overlapping jurisdiction on a wide range of criminal offenses that violate both state and federal law. Deputies and agents work closely and collaboratively on these matters. Federal agents are assigned to the Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force and have been instrumental in disrupting criminal gangs, drug trafficking organizations, sophisticated criminal enterprises and arresting habitual felons that deal in crime and violence. This cooperative relationship also facilitates coordination in suspected cases of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

Cooperation with DHS and its component agencies should not be confused with civil or administrative aspects of immigration enforcement. Deputies lack the legal authority to enforce federal civil and administrative statutes. Deputies do not stop, contact, detain or interrogate any persons solely for the purpose of ascertaining that person’s immigration status and do not prolong any detentions longer than necessary to complete normal processes in connection with a criminal or traffic violation. This is embodied in practices and is consistent with a 2013 Washington State court decision (Ramirez-Rangel v. Kitsap County). – That was in parentheses. –

Last week, I requested the regional ICE “Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations” in Seattle to explain Whatcom County’s listing. After researching the matter, the acting director of the office advised me that his agents reported that the Sheriff’s Office has been fully cooperative and it appeared that the County should not have been listed as “non-cooperative.” He further explained that the decisions on county designations are made at the agency’s national headquarters in the District of Columbia on the basis of newspaper articles that followed the court decision. The acting director agreed to work to assist us in being removed from the “non-cooperating” list. However, he further indicated that many counties across the country were also voicing objections and that the issue may take some time to resolve.

I was not contacted by anyone from ICE prior to the Sheriff’s Office being included on the “non-cooperative” list. Whatcom County is not a sanctuary for criminal aliens and the Sheriff’ Office fully cooperates with ICE on the transfer of criminal aliens to the extent permitted by law. I can only conclude that the decision was made within the realm of a large bureaucracy that chose not to review the relationships, policies and practices that exist within our community to ensure public safety and cooperation or the Constitution as interpreted by a federal judge, which I took an oath to uphold.

Late on Tuesday (March 29th) I received notice from ICE that effective Sunday (April 2nd) their entire process for requesting the transfer of criminal aliens to federal custody is being revised as to scope and procedure. The new policy does not provide for the presentation of warrants but rather insists that Sheriffs accept revised detainer request forms. There was no prior discussion with Sheriffs on this process. There Prosecuting Attorney Dave… I don’t know how to pronounce his last name… Prosecuting Attorney Dave… spelling… M-c-E-a-c-h-r-a-n… is reviewing these federal changes and will provide me with advice that will help ensure adherence to the requirements of the Constitution. I will continue to work closely with ICE to effectuate public safety and the requirements of the law.

Bill Elfo, Sheriff

A flyer.

Raid Relief to Reunite Families.
Alivio de Redadas para Reunir Familias.

February 2018: ICE conducts an I-9 audit on
Granite Precast in Bellingham due to results
of an E-verify scan run by the employer. The
list from the I-9 audit contains the names
and information of 38 undocumented

August 29, 2018: Between the hours of 4:30
and 6:30am, ICE detains 16 Granite Precast
employees either in their homes or on their
way to work.The workers are brought to a
border patrol facility for holding in Ferndale.

August 29, 2018: C2C – Community to Community, Comunidad a Comunidad – is contacted by a
family member of one of the detained
workers. Individuals picked up have
contacted other workers from Granite
Precast to warn them about the raid.

September 1, 2018: C2C hosts a meeting of
the families in their office. At that meeting
Ruby Castaneda, whose husband was
detained in the raid, volunteers to organize
the families and assess what their needs are.
The organization Raid Relief to Reunite
Families is created.

September 5, 2018: Whatcom Community
Foundation partners with Raid Relief to
Reunite Families to support funding for bond
and legal fees.

September 7 – September 24, 2018: Six of
the detained workers are released on bond.
The fees, which were successively increased
from $3,000 to $18,000 each, are covered
by donations from the community. The
workers released on bond are not allowed
to work while they apply for their green

During the month of September, eight of
the detained workers are deported, leaving
their families in Whatcom County without an
income. Two of the workers remain in
detention awaiting hearings on asylum.
Both of those workers are originally from

October 29 ,2018: A community member
awaiting asylum is denied and deported to
Honduras. One last community member
remains in detention.

November 21, 2018: Gratitude Dinner
provided by families affected by the raid to
raise funds for basic needs.

January 28, 2019: The last community
member, Jahn Zúniga, is released from

The August 29, 2018: ICE Raid targeting Granite Precast
workers was the third major raid in our community, predated
by a 2007 workplace raid at Northwest Healthcare Linen and
a 2009 workplace raid at Yamato – I think… YamaTO, YaMATo – Y-A-M-A-T-O Engine Specialist.
However, this raid is unprecedented in a few key ways: it did
not take place at the workplace, meaning that the Granite
Precast workers did not have a unified experience, they did
not know whether they were being singularly targeted, and
there were no witnesses. Furthermore, Granite Precast
voluntarily participated in the E-Verify program, which is
optional in Washington State, triggering the I-9 audit.

And I will post these in the comments section and the description… links to these things.


Keep Washington Working
Senate Bill 5689 (2017-2018, Senator Wellman) For Dignity Dialogue June 3rd, 2019

Local Law Enforcement May Not… This is a list, a bulleted list. Local Law Enforcement May Not:
Inquire into or collect a person’s immigration/citizenship status or place of birth
Local Law Enforcement May Not provide information per notification request from federal immigration authorities for purposes of civil immigration.
May not provide non-publicly available info to ICE or those in community custody. 
May not give access to interview a person to ICE without written consent after being fully advised of right to deny.
May not detain solely based on immigration status.
May not take into custody solely for immigration warrant. 
May not enter into 1357 agreement… 1357 (g) agreement
May not enter into detention agreement – Caveat – if agreement in effect prior to January 1st, 2019, and been paid on it already may remain in effect until date of completion or December 21st, 2021, whichever is earlier. 
And May Not enter into or renew contract language services

Local Governments May Not:
Deny services, benefits, privileges to individuals in custody, on probation, in comm custody on the basis… I’m assuming that means “community”… Local Governments may not deny services, benefits, privileges to individuals in custody, on probation, in comm custody… c-o-m-m custody, on the basis of immigration status, hold, or an immigration warrant.

Triple asterisk. No section is intended to limit or prohibit local agency from sending to or receiving from immigration authorities the immigration/citizenship status of a person or maintain such information or exchanging such information. 

Double bullet. Within 12 months of May 21st, 2019, the Attorney General, AG, must in consult with stakeholders publish model policies, guidance, and training consistent with this act. (work group to be established by Department of Commerce)

Local Law Enforcement must adopt policies or send notice to AG, Attorney General, not adopting model, reasons why, and copy of policy to ensure acting in compliance.

Note on complaints. While the law does not expressly articulate or create a complaint process, each local law enforcement agency has some type of complaint process if the policy enacted was violated. Presumptively, if fail to address the complaint, a suit could be filed or a complaint to the AG. If fail to enact policy that would go to AG.

$700,000 for the Attorney General’s office to implement and multiple smaller amounts for other agencies to implement… let me start over… Funding. $700,000 for the Attorney General’s office to implement and multiple smaller amounts for other agencies to implement such as Department of Commerce, DSHS, etc. Some get $63,000 and some get less depending on the size of the agency and the tasks.

Keep Bellingham Families Working
12 Ways the City’s Ordinance passed on February, February 13th, 2017 continues to fall short of real protection
Business as usual won’t protect our community. 
1… These 12 Ways the City’s Ordinance on February 13th, 2017 continues to fall short of real protection:
1. Comes from the flawed tokenizing “work group” process
2. Allows city taxes to be used for immigration enforcement (Section 2.25.030)
#3. Offers no assurance to undocumented immigrants that interacting with City employees won’t land them in ICE custody.
#4. Allows Bellingham police and employees to continue cooperating with and ICE and/or Border Patrol whenever criminal activity – including minor offenses like traffic – is involved. #4 Allows Bellingham police and employees to continue cooperating ICE and/or Border Patrol whenever “criminal” activity – including minor offenses, like traffic – is involved. (Section 2.25.060)
#5. Allows sharing of information with immigration officials through What-Comm 911 dispatch. (Section 2.25.060)
#6. Allows Bellingham police and employees to continue cooperating with ICE and/or Border Patrol to verify identity. (Section 2.25.060)
#7. Fails to repeal 287-G policy that Bellingham police claim they can use to question people’s status and act as immigration enforcement. [BPD policy 417.4.4a] 
#8. Allows Bellingham police and employees to continue sharing other information with federal officials “when necessary” without specific definitions of necessity. (Section 2.25.060)
#9. Further delegitimizes racial profiling complaints.
#10. Leaves unanswered questions about accountability and transparency by eliminating the community’s request for a civilian oversight board.
#11. Eliminates enforcement: City refuses liability and private right of action (Section 2.25.090)
#12. States the obvious – that Bellingham won’t take part in unconstitutional activities – when it could say: In Bellingham, all people are valued, are afforded dignity and respect regardless of status including identity information, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration, national or ethnic origin.

Whatcom County Border Patrol Stations
Bellingham Station
Physical and Mailing Address:
Bellingham Border Patrol Station
1431 Sunset Avenue
Ferndale, WA 98248-8914
Phone: (360) 380-0408

The Bellingham Station lies approximately 18 miles south of the United States/Canada Border.
The city of Bellingham is a regional transportation hub for rail and air traffic, home to the
Bellingham International Airport and the Alaska and Washington Ferry systems.
As the primary federal law enforcement agency between the ports-of-entry, the Border Patrol’s
mission is to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons of terrorism: to enforce the laws
that protect America’s homeland by the detection, interdiction, and apprehension of those who
attempt to illegally enter or smuggle any person or contraband across our Nation’s sovereign

Blaine Station
Blaine Border Patrol Station
1580 H Street
Blaine, WA 98230-9114
Phone:(360) 332-1721

The Blaine Border Patrol Station is located in the extreme northwest of the continental United
States. Blaine Station Border Patrol agents perform the full range of patrol duties within their
area of responsibility.
As the primary federal law enforcement agency between the ports… between the ports-of-entry, the Border Patrol’s
mission is to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons of terrorism: to enforce the laws
that protect America’s homeland by the detection, interdiction, and apprehension of those who
attempt to illegally enter or smuggle any person or contraband across our Nation’s sovereign

Sumas Station
Address: Sumas Border Patrol Station
9648 Garrison Road
Sumas, WA 98295
Phone: (360) 988-5520

Sumas Station is the easternmost Border Patrol station in the Blaine Sector. Previously the
Lynden Station, the new… previously the Lynden Station, the new Sumas Station was dedicated on October 10, 2008. 2008. The current station
is located within the Sumas city limits approximately 5 miles from the Sumas POE.
As the primary federal law enforcement agency between the ports-of-entry, the Border Patrol’s
mission is to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons of terrorism: to enforce the laws
that protect America’s homeland by the detection, interdiction, and apprehension of those who
attempt to illegally enter or smuggle any person or contraband across our Nation’s sovereign

The last thing I want to say before I sign off… is that I’ve been feeling… extremely wary about the fact that the proposal for a new jail is recirculating again… at the same time that… we have concentration camps in this country.

I think Bellingham, Washington needs to become a Sanctuary City. In no uncertain terms.
And there is one more thing, actually.
A lot more candidates and just people in general are talking about a lot of different solutions, different ideas for a range of housing opportunities for our city.
Multiple income levels, you know, reaching people of… different income levels. You know, we got the tiny homes, and then I’ve seen questions about how do we change zoning so that maybe some single-family zoned neighborhoods will become multi-family.
And then just yesterday, I went to the Housing Co-Operatives Resource Center, new Housing Co-Operatives Resource Center open house. And learned a lot there. And I, I have a lot more to learn, but I find everything that was told to me sounds very promising. And very accessible. To everyone. Not just the investor class.

However, in, you know, now that yeah, ok, there’s… there’s a lot more conversation about… there’s a lot more nuanced conversation about the homelessness crisis and the housing quicksand… However, I feel… However, I think that there isn’t… I think immigrants and refugees are being left out. We’re talking about housing more, but how do we make sure that our neighbors who are immigrants, our neighbors who are refugees, are protected as well?
That they have access to housing, too.

Those are my thoughts.

Thank you for watching, reading, or listening.





Read Von’s complete post on his Vote Von for the Peoples of – por las Gentes de – Bellingham Facebook page here.

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