Berkeley City College. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

Update, Tuesday, 9:50 a.m. A U.S. Homeland Security spokesman said he is “unaware of any enforcement actions in that area or investigations,” when asked about reports of an agent seeking information from Berkeley City College on Monday.

“If there is an ongoing investigation, there’s not much I can say,” said Paul Prince, Northern California spokesman for Homeland Security Investigations & Enforcement and Removal Operations, in an email.

Berkeleyside has requested additional information on these reports. Check back for potential updates.Original story, Monday: Berkeley City College officials confirmed online reports Monday that a Department of Homeland Security agent had come to the school seeking information about a student.

On Monday afternoon, some people associated with BCC posted warnings that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer had shown up at the school’s financial aid office. An initial tweet was shared more than 1,500 times.

Felicia Bridges, a BCC spokeswoman, confirmed that a DHS agent “under contract with ADC background investigator” came to the Downtown Berkeley campus and “claimed that he was doing a background check for employment.” She did not specify whether he worked for ICE.

“While he presented a document of  ‘authorization’ for access to student records, he was not provided with the information he was seeking and [was] directed to the VP and President of the campus,” Bridges said in an email.

Berkeleyside has requested confirmation and details from DHS and ICE, and will update this story if the agencies respond.


Bridges said BCC follows sanctuary protocols, prohibiting staff from requesting or recording information on students’ immigration statuses. If ICE asks for access to a classroom or for student information, “they will be politely denied,” and referred to campus leaders, who will then consult with legal counsel, according to an email sent to BCC faculty and staff in light of deportation raids planned across the country this week.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he decided to delay that enforcement for two weeks to see if  “the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!”

Bridges said the campus has “been put on alert.”

BCC is represented on Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s sanctuary city task force, she noted.

Berkeley was the first city in the nation to declare itself a sanctuary — then for Vietnam War resisters — in the early 1970s. Today, it has policies prohibiting police and other staff from cooperating with ICE.

Berkeley Unified also follows sanctuary protocols, and UC Berkeley has a program for undocumented students as does BCC.

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...