From the 1797 establishment of the first Spanish pueblo in Branciforte through the European influx at the time of statehood, and from early-20th century Italian fishermen through late-20th century Latino farmworkers, immigrants have always defined Santa Cruz County.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors reaffirmed its commitment to our immigrant communities. We are one community of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, regardless of immigrations status. Cooperation from all corners of Santa Cruz County is essential to help deliver basic services of public safety, education, health care and more.
The County seeks to provide residents information that could be of assistance, including information about immigrant rights, local law enforcement activities, information on immigration services and more.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Recent activities by the federal government have raised questions within immigrant communities about their legal rights should they be confronted by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other federal agencies. While the County cannot provide legal advice, it encourages residents to educate themselves about their rights. The links below provide information in English and Spanish.
THE COUNTY’S ROLE
The County provides a variety of state and federal services to residents. However, we do not act as an extension of federal law enforcement agencies. We are providing the following information to clients concerned that accessing critical services may expose them or family members to federal immigration actions.
- The County does not report immigrants to ICE.
- In the unlikely event ICE agents present themselves at County offices to inquire about clients, County staff have been instructed to contact supervisors immediately. ICE agents are not permitted to enter non-public areas of County buildings without a judicial warrant.
- ICE agents may refer to "warrants", which often have different meanings. It is important to determine if "warrants" were issued by a federal court. County staff are not required to assist ICE agents in possession of an administrative warrant issued by an Immigration Judge, and may ask ICE agents to leave
- If presented with an ICE subpoena, most County staff are not authorized to accept subpoenas on the County’s behalf, and the County is not required to comply until the warrant has been challenged in court.
The County does not provide assistance with citizenship issues or changes to immigration status. However, the Santa Cruz County Immigration Project does provide assistance with petitions for family members, applications for citizenship, resident (“green”) card renewals or replacements, assistance with consular processing, adjustment of status, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications and more. The Immigration Project is now assisting clients with DACA renewals.
Sheriff Jim Hart supports immigrant communities, and the Sheriff’s Office encourages victims of crime to come forward regardless of immigration status. Following the recent Presidential election, Sheriff Hart wrote an open letter stressing that the Sheriff’s Office does not enforce immigration laws. Click here to read it.
Recently, many immigrants have begun obtaining U.S. passports for their U.S. born children. The Santa Cruz County Clerk's Office offers passport services during regular business hours, and offers special weekend "Passport Days."
While the County cannot provide legal advice, there may be instances you require legal assistance. Several organizations offer ways to locate immigration lawyers.
Access to courts is one of the foundations of America. Regardless of immigration status, everyone should have access to justice, feel free to exercise their rights and support the rule of law.