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. Tim Brennan says:

    I am a libertarian atheist and think the churches have sold their first amendment rights in exchange for tax exemptions. The frist amendment guarantee every one the right to free speech as well as prohibiting the government from favoring any religion….its a prohibition on the government and no restriction on the churches. IMHO the best way to deal with that is remove any tax exemption for churches. Getting to churches being able to offer some kind of faux shield from law enforcement ….it If they do they do its no more or less legitimate than than anyone else. If I do it I can be charged with aiding and abetting ….so can they . 00% fine for them to want to change the law or advocate for any position they want ….but they are not above the law

  2. If you’re an illegal alien in the United States you have no rights to be here. You broke our laws to trespass.
    You most probably have either stolen or phony identification on you, which is another crime. ID theft.
    And you want American citizens to leave you alone!
    You’re here for economic reasons.
    If you think so highly of mexico, why not build your life there and don’t break our laws?
    just don’t take your problem and dump it on us.

    We don’t want or need ‘law abiding’ illegal aliens as neighbors.

  3. Stake out churches, schools, daycare, court rooms and anywhere else necessary to catch those unwilling to obey our laws. Those that keep returning after several deportations should receive a large bright facial tattoo to make them easily identifiable.

    1. Larry Schalk says:

      Those ICE agents were just trying to find a better life.

    2. Great idea. Never thought of that!

  4. Fred Keller says:

    Novel idea, Law enforcement caught doing their job! Trump must have “colluded” with them, for them to actually be doing their job! If aliens have made their country into a hell hole, why do we need them here?

  5. Greg Hawkins says:

    Maybe they should go to church in Mexico where they are from.

  6. Philip Nolan says:

    Enforce the laws. End of discussion.

  7. Joe Smith says:

    Arrest criminals where they can be located.

    Well, that’s simple enough, isn’t it?

  8. Anyone who helps illegals is guilty of a felony. SO when the pastor says his congregants are intimidated? That means there are felons within. Go get ’em ICE.

  9. “The vast majority of immigrants are not criminals. They have violated civil immigration law, but they’re not criminals,” said Luis Cespedes.
    Uhhh, Mr. Liar/lawyer, violating the law makes them a criminal, regardless of how you want to twist the word!

  10. Tou Parish says:

    ICE should stake out any place illegals are found… and shoot them dead. Enough of this deportation BS.

  11. Georani Jay says:

    what nonsense. a sanctuary for Latino community. as though being latino is a crime. Newsflash: even legal latinos are against illegal immigration. Stop trying to conflate everything.

  12. krew09 says:

    If this were true ,the Jew media would be howling for the poor families,and all the haters,and bigots are like Nazis. people that believe the news on its face value,are the reason this country is going down the tubes. No evidence of any arrests,few deportations,and he is pumping in refugees at a higher rate than Obama…why? Because Jews own him,and are now his major donors…easy…These stories are just to appease the Americans who don’t want to be overrun with third world hoards. Trump is b.s. If this were true ,the Jew media would be howling for the poor families,and all the haters,and bigots are like Nazis.

  13. navchart9 says:

    ICE Agents “CAUGHT” staking out Church in Sacramento ???
    is the title of this story on Drudge.

    Somebody needs to understand who’s representing the Law on this issue.
    Helpful Tip: It’s NOT the Illegals of any stripe.

  14. Great. About time. Since local authorities won’t help, you go where you can find them.

  15. Churches have no right to shelter fugitives under the Constitution.

  16. After this news report you expect this Church attendance is down for next week.

  17. Patrick Wood says:

    If these law-breakers were any other sort of criminal, agents would be lauded for staking out the church in an attempt to make an apprehension. Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  18. Concerns? The only people concerned are the illegals and their supporters.
    To catch illegals, you have to go to where the illegals are.

  19. Yeah some illegals may be going to church. We wait for drunks out side the bar same thing here nail them when they come out

  20. Bob (@Voin) says:

    ENFORCE THE LAW! “Sensitive Areas” policy is a shield for criminals. Illegal entry into the USA is a criminal act – just not a felony . . . yet. Any place that illegals gather, 24/7, is open to law enforcement. When they rally in Washington DC – arrest them. If they approach or depart a church – arrest them. If they shop at their favorite stores or restaurants, arrest them. We need mass deportations based on ICE arrests now!

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