In the middle of a drenching rain storm Feb. 14, a group of protestors gathered outside the Morgan Hill office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in hopes of shutting it down.
The protest, organized by the Rapid Response Network in Santa Clara County, hosted a series of speakers at the Vineyard Court office who advocated for the abolishment of the agency and the shutdown of the field office over an incident that occurred in December 2018.
At the first protest, immigration attorney Dorothy Ma described an incident where an immigrant was detained by officers with the U.S. ICE agency and was denied due process while forced to sit in a van outside the Morgan Hill field office on Vineyard Court before he was transported to a processing center in San Francisco.
The protestors returned nearly two months later, this time in smaller numbers in the winter rain, with a list of demands; many marched into the field office an read the list to the officers inside.
Morgan Hill police were called to the scene, and the building’s landlord faced off with the protestors who had gathered in the parking lot of the office. The protest ended peacefully, with protestors dispersing to public property, but vowing to return
As car alarms blared, the small group of protestors continued to chant and give speeches in both English and Spanish.
“What kind of a society are we when we tear their families apart?” Fr. Robert Brocato, from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Gilroy, asked the crowd. “What kind of a society are we when our government institutions, which we expect to be working in a fair way and a lawful way, are not? What about human dignity, basic human dignity?”
The Morgan Hill ICE office is a administrative processing center. ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha responded to a request for comment: “The ICE office in Morgan Hill is solely administrative space and does not have space to process or detain individuals, nor is it set up to offer attorney or family visits. ICE routinely stops at the Morgan Hill office to allow detainees an opportunity to use the restroom en route to other permanent ICE facilities where full access to attorneys is provided.”