The Trump administration has begun immigration raids across major cities in the country, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.
They are targeting about 2,000 immigrants over the next couple of days.
Although the raids are not expected on the Central Coast, with the 2020 Census around the corner, Santa Maria city leaders are trying to dispel fears. They say no personal information is being given to government agencies like ICE.
The City is now trying to work with community partners to educate people on what information is taken and what would happen if there’s not an accurate count.
“Regardless of your immigration status, you are a part of this community and you deserve to be counted,” said Santa Maria City Councilmember Gloria Soto.
As the 2020 census moves closer, Santa Maria city leaders say they want to restore faith in government within the undocumented community.
“We completely understand that families within the City of Santa Maria are living in fear and myself as a councilwoman, I am committed to representing every resident that lives within the city of Santa Maria and really uplifting their voice,” Soto said.
The City hopes to get more volunteers to help educate people on what information is collected and who can see it.
“All of the information that the Census Bureau takes in is confidential at an individual basis for 75 years. No one at the Census Bureau is allowed to share any of that information by constitutional law – not even with law enforcement agencies,” explained City of Santa Maria Public Information Manager Mark van de Kamp.
Lori Haley, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, spokesperson tells KSBY it “does not engage in indiscriminate sweeps or raids”, saying in part:
“90 percent of aliens arrested by ice’s enforcement and removal operations component in FY2018 had either a criminal conviction(s), pending criminal charge(s), were an ice fugitive, or illegally reentered the country after previously being removed.”
A miscounted census would likely have hefty repercussions over the next 10 years. The results from the census can give the city more funding for job training, emergency services, schools and hospitals.
“So if there were 1000 children in Santa Maria between ages 1 and 5, over the next 10 years, that translates to $20 million that would not come into Santa Maria,” van de Kamp said.
Van de Kamp says the Census Bureau believes Santa Maria will be the hardest city in the county to count, weighing in several factors like people who don’t have broadband access and several people living in one home.
ICE would not elaborate on how many people will be arrested by ICE officials in the upcoming sweeps.