WATSONVILLE — Federal immigration authorities on Wednesday arrested a father of three who had lived in Watsonville for 12 years, according to immigration attorney Doug Keegan.
Keegan said that the man was on his way to drop his children off at their daycare facility in Watsonville when agents stopped his vehicle.
According to Keegan, the Salvadoran immigrant, whose name was not released, was living in the U.S. illegally. But he is married to a U.S. resident, and the couple has three children, all U.S. residents.
The man has no criminal record, Keegan said.
“It was kind of puzzling why they targeted this young man, who wouldn’t seem to be a priority for them,” he said.
The man was being held Wednesday afternoon at a federal detention center in San Francisco. It is unclear whether he will be immediately deported, or whether he will have a chance to be released on bond, Keegan said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents called the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to let them know they would be in the area, which is typical when outside agencies enter a new jurisdiction.
But neither Watsonville Police Department nor the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office cooperate with ICE, which is part of the city and county sanctuary policies.
“Watsonville Police Department had nothing to do with it,” said WPD Sgt. Jarrod Pisturino. “We offer no assistance to Homeland Security at all. Their investigations are completely separate from ours.”
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Cleveland also said that deputies offered no assistance.
Keegan said the arrest should not be seen as a general sweep, but rather as a “limited and targeted” action.
“These ICE actions seem to be targeting specific individuals, and should not cause a panic in the community,” he said. “This is not random and not large scale. For now we hope there won’t be any more, but I don’t want people to be fearful or anxious.”