During the protest Friday put on by the Kern Coalition for Citizenship and ACLU, Rosario Hernandez, one of several speakers alks about her boyfriend and daughter's father, Hector, who was deported to Mexico.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to open an office in Bakersfield soon that will focus on immigrant rights and policing, moving the famously liberal organization from a remote monitoring stance to up-close vigilance in Kern County.

An ACLU staff lawyer is scheduled to begin work Oct. 1 at an undisclosed office address in the city. The plan is to eventually staff the office with four lawyers. Already the organization has an organizer operating in the city.

"We've seen tremendous value in having our advocates on the ground in the community," said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. "We find that their ability to hear and learn what's going on is really magnified if they're there rather than us trying to serve a community from a distance."

Plans for a Bakersfield office reflect the ACLU's concern with allegations local law enforcement oversteps legal bounds and that immigrants require greater legal protection.

Villagra noted the ACLU has in recent years become involved in Kern County cases alleging improper use of checkpoints to impound immigrants' vehicles, federal raids at or near courthouses and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

He pointed to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood's statements earlier this year critical of the California Values Act, the so-called sanctuary law that prohibits local and state law enforcement agencies from using their resources to investigate or arrest people in support of federal immigration enforcement. Villagra said the ACLU wants to ensure the sheriff's office complies with the 2017 law.

The ACLU's Northern California affiliate maintains an office in Fresno. The Bakersfield office will be affiliated with the organization's Southern California branch, which since 2005 has expanded from Los Angeles to offices in Orange County to San Bernardino.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

(8) comments


Re ACLU, has anyone looked at the Staff Attorney Job Posting for this position on the ACLU web site? (smile) It requires that the applicant be able to do five different full time jobs in addition to being an attorney. 1.Investigate, develop and litigate high-impact cases at the trial and appellate level in federal and state courts. 2.Serve as a policy expert and advocate on state and local policing and immigration issues in support of legislation and other campaigns. 3. public speaking, media interviews, outreach and "know your rights" presentations. 4. writing op-eds, newsletter articles, and reports. 5. Provide technical support and strategic leadership to community groups, advocates and organizers in the region. 6.Organize and lead community and stakeholder education events. 7.Run trainings for activists and organizers. And then the ad has the nerve to say Salary based on experience How do I know these are five to seven full time positions? Because I used to hold full time jobs doing #4 for around $52,000 a year. I know the ACLU expects the applicant to make sacrifices. But, give the person a chance to succeed. Give the person one of these jobs. And since it has various individuals holding the other jobs in its SoCal office, send some of them up here. I mean if the ACLU really cares about Kern County and not just saying it is putting an office up here for political purposes, or just to look good. What the ACLU is demanding of what it calls a "midlevel" position is a recipe for failure. And, as they said in that popular 80's song, who's gonna take the weight? I don't know. And as you can tell from the ad, the ACLU doesn't care. Here is the job notice link. https://www.aclusocal.org/en/jobs/staff-attorney-kern-county-entrymid-level


If you enter this country illegally, you do not and should not have any rights. But we will kindly give you food and water until we drop you off at the southern most tip of Mexico. Hopefully that makes it a longer return trip when you undoubtedly come back.


IDIOTS!!! Hey Carlos.... not sure if you got the memo, but law enforcement does not answer to the ACLU. I’m upset at myself for wasting my time reading the comments. Illegal used to mean illegal.


Quick and simple follow the laws and you wont have a problem with them... Don't like it go home or go away from the problem, whether it be South America or Oregon.....


I am glad the ACLU has decided to locate here.They will have plenty of business I am sure. The law enforcement folks will have some things they have to change.
They have been used to doing things the way they want to, now they will have the ACLU to answer to,


positive shift happening. hooded knights of corrupt kern.


"Under federal law, any non-U.S. citizen is an alien. Aliens who have entered the United States without permission, or who have violated the terms of their admission, are identified under the law as ILLEGAL ALIENS." [United States Code, Title 8, §1101(a)(3); United States Code, Title 8, §1365(b]



Congratulations! Not only is the work the ACLU does terribly important, especially when some many people's rights are being trampled on, but their presence alone gives a lot of confidence to people to stand up and fight back as well! Sí, se puede!

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