On Wednesday afternoon, a faithful coalition stood near the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse to support, defend and define what it means to be part of a Sanctuary Initiative for all immigrants. The group of congregation leaders was then joined by Centro del Pueblo and other advocates for Measure K--the official Humboldt County Sanctuary Initiative.
The speakers collectively formed a platform to challenge previous allegations from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office on the estimated cost of the initiative.
Ministers, reverends, rabbis, tribal members and Buddhists were among the crowd delivering messages of resilience and togetherness. Reverend Deborah Hubbard of Grace Good Shepherd in McKinleyville emphasized that their church was a sanctuary congregation.
“There’s not a more innocent person than an innocent child, especially when they’ve lost 1,475 of them in the system from separating them from their immigrant parents. What kind of people can do that to an innocent child?” Hubbard said and also recognized the sanctity of being on Wiyot Land. “All us white people are immigrants. Unless we have tribal heritage, our ancestors came here from somewhere else. We are all ancestors of immigrants, so we need to keep that in the back of our mind when we’re welcoming everybody with love of humanity.”
Other faith leaders, like Cliff Anderson from the Community Presbyterian Church of Garberville shared similar opinions and support for Measure K.
“We believe strongly that to be a loving and just adult we must have love and justice as a child. We believe that Measure K will do that for the kids in our community and the immigrants that are in our community who work hard each and every day to make a better life for themselves and for their children,” Anderson said.
The press conference was, according to Centro del Pueblo steering member Renee Saucedo, a move to dispel the County’s and Sheriff Department’s estimated costs of Measure K. The Board of Supervisors published a report on Measure K which said that the initiative would cost between $171,500 and $312,650. Those costs include staff time, additional staff or actual monetary resources and are, according to the board, associated with provisions of the initiative. However, Measure K advocates argue that those estimations are not realistic or valid. Saucedo said one of the main reasons for the press conference was to refute the claims made by county officials.
“We do not agree with the sheriff’s assessment or the county officials. We believe that this information is inaccurate and misleading,” Saucedo said. “Measure K does not require the sheriff to do significantly more than what he already has to do under state law."
Saucedo argued that California state laws, like the California Truth Act, already require the sheriff’s office to provide information in writing to people when Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants their personal information. The law, according to Saucedo, requires the communication made between ICE and local law enforcement to be made public record.
The extra responsibilities and resources that Honsal spoke about in a recent Times-Standard article were considered by the group to be inaccurate as well. Saucedo said Measure K would only require the sheriff to track and report his department’s own communication with ICE, not all of ICE’s activities in the county.
Advocates for Measure k, like local attorney Eric V. Kirk said the misconceptions by the sheriff’s office created another uphill battle for the initiative. The estimates are based on what Kirk described as the worst case scenarios and added that other county governments are able to do the same type of reporting at a lower cost. Kirk, who spoke with KHSU earlier this month on the matter, said there was nothing to justify the projected costs.
“The Probation Department has the same requirement. Their estimate for the time to write those two reports: track and report, are $1250 to $2500,” Kirk said.
Saucedo echoed that sentiment and concluded that by not assisting ICE agents, the sheriff’s office would actually save money.
“By discontinuing the sharing of release dates to ICE, the sheriff will have no communications with ICE to report under Measure K,” Saucedo said and encouraged others to seek out Centro del Pueblo and the Campaign to Pass Measure K for further information on the county’s estimations. “We will gladly provide this information. Since we wrote the initiative we know it best.”
Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal kept his original stance on Measure K, and said the law is not essential because local law enforcement already follows the strict protocols of the State Sanctuary Law SB-54.
“This measure is just not necessary. Anyone who looks at our policy and procedure and sees how extensive it is can see how we’re following the letter of the law,” Honsal said.
County resources are a main concern for Honsal who said his department already struggles to patrol the entire county. Honsal also noted that even if his department doesn’t report all crimes to ICE, that officers and everyone else has access to public records which are routinely used to detain criminals.
Despite concerns and opposition from the sheriff’s office, advocates are confident that Measure K will pass in November’s upcoming election. The press conference on Wednesday afternoon ended with a rally of people shouting “Yes on K." Their arms raised in the air as car horns beeped in solidarity.