By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Fears of deportation have placed a cloud over a Sacramento church.

The Del Paso church  La Vida serves as a sanctuary for the local Hispanic community. Federal immigration agents were caught staking out at the church during services.

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have a policy to avoid sensitive places, including houses of worship.

Pastor Alex Vaiz’s Sacramento church is a safe place for people from all walks of life.

“A good number of our church are immigrants,” said he said.

But Vaiz says that sanctuary is now threatened, after federal immigration agents staked out across the street from the church during Sunday services.

Vaiz approached an unmarked sedan in the parking lot of an old Bank of America.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents told him they were there by coincidence, not realizing the church exists. Del Paso boulevard has signs pointing to La Vida church but it’s tucked away behind an art gallery. ICE agents made no arrests, and left, leaving the pastor and his church on edge.

“There was confusion and a lot of fear,” said Vaiz.

In a statement, ICE tells CBS13:

“Officers were conducting surveillance in conjunction with a targeted enforcement action. the officers, who were parked in a lot marked by a sign for a major bank, were unaware the property is used by a congregation that holds Sunday services in an office building across the street.”

“The vast majority of immigrants are not criminals. They have violated civil immigration law, but they’re not criminals,” said Luis Cespedes.

Luis Cespedes is an immigration attorney and serves as legal counsel for the Sacramento’s Safe Haven Task Force, protecting immigrant families from unlawful raids. But Cespedes says ICE’s conduct at La Vida Church is lawful. If the person they were looking for is convicted of a crime, the city is not a sanctuary for criminals.

“Both of our local jurisdictions and ICE contemplate continuing to arrest, particularly if there’s a judicial warrant… serious felons,” said Cespedes.

Immigration raids have spiked nationwide under the Trump administration, but ICE maintains its policy to avoid sensitive areas, including churches.

“There is more power in numbers,” said Vaiz.

So Vaiz is now powering through by beefing up security at services.

“We’re just worried about them coming back again and intimidating our congregation,” said Vaiz.

ICE emphasizes the incident is purely coincidence and agents are not targeting churches and other sensitive areas.

Comments (118)
  1. Ken Kaufman says:

    Criminals should fear law enforcement. These ILLEGALS should be deported at once, and anyone aiding and abetting them should be arrested, tried and imprisoned. These people STEAL from the American taxpayers. They are common thieves. If democrats want them here, SPONSOR them, and be financially responsible for them. Otherwise DEPORT them. Alternatively we could arrest them, make then do hard labor building the wall and then deport them, or we could offer a reward, say $500 for each one Dead or Alive.

    1. Excellent job ICE. TAKE ‘EM WHERE YOU FIND ‘EM.

      America needs to be a sanctuary for AMERICANS.


      People here legally have nothing to fear, but illegals.

    2. “The vast majority of immigrants are not criminals. They have violated civil immigration law, but they’re not criminals,” said Luis Cespedes.

      Illegal entry (or “improper entry”) to the US carries criminal penalties (fines and jail or prison time), in addition to civil penalties and immigration consequences (deportation and bars from future entry).

      Ilona Bray, J.D.

      It is a FELONY to enter the USA improperly. Round them up and ship them out…NOW.

  2. John Warden says:

    Just doing their job, I’d be disappointed with them if they’re not doing what they were hired to do. Good work and keep it up……..

  3. Remind me where in Mexico illegal Americans get sanctuary???

  4. Paul Trott says:

    I still haven’t found oone legal immigrant afraid of ICE.

  5. This is about nothing. No arrests, just paranoia. I’m glad these folks are getting nervous, but this story shows their guilty feelings, nothing more. I’VE agents get “near” illegals every minute in America. Few are arrested.

  6. Dave Gardner says:

    (un)Reverend, ILLEGAL ALIENS not “migrants” get it right!

  7. Joe Swartz says:

    “were caught staking out at the church” WERE CAUGHT???

    Gezzz, Fing “media”.

  8. “The vast majority of immigrants are not criminals. ” Thats why 25% of inmates in Federal jail are illegals, mostly for violent drug related crimes. Good I hope they are frightened, they should be for the damage they have done to this country. $20 billion for a wall is cheap

  9. Good. They are doing their job then

  10. Whatever you have to do to round up those here illegally.
    There ARE no “law free zones” in America and anyone who is running their city, county, state, church or business as a “law free” sanctuary needs to be arrested for obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting as well as harboring fugitives from justice.

    Anyhow, ICE “wasn’t caught” enforcing the law. ICE “caught” illegal lawbreakers going to a place that is being declared an illegal “law free zone” and is going to arrest and deport them.

    Zero tolerance for illegals in the USA. Arrest and deport them.

  11. I don’t want illegals in this country but churches are GODS House and the government has no business being anywhere near them.

  12. Mark Meyer says:

    Illegal immigrants are criminals….PERIOD. California if full of it. The feds will do what they want when they want to do it.

  13. David Foster says:

    So? Church’s have no special rights, they don’t even pay taxes so they should not complain.

  14. Fake news: “Agents were caught ….”Huh? That implies that ICE agents were doing something illegal. They weren’t. The illegals ensconced in the church are the lawbreakers. Another leftie media outlet that deliberately turns truth into fiction.

  15. Tam Brineman says:

    “The vast majority of immigrants are not criminals. They have violated civil immigration law, but they’re not criminals,” said Luis Cespedes.

    There is no “civil” immigration law. It is immigration law. If they violated it, they are criminals. Talk about a classic case of double speak.

  16. Brian Smyth says:

    So what. A criminal is a criminal whether they are in a church or a bar.

  17. From the headline it sound like Sacramento is concerned that law enforcement is enforcing the law.

  18. Randy Mason says:

    Good, send them all home.

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