ICE Says Surveillance Team Wasn’t Targeting Anyone at Church on Del Paso Boulevard

SACRAMENTO -- It was a festive Mother's Day sermon a the Vida Church on Del Paso Boulevard until churchgoers spotted three suspicious vehicles in the bank parking lot across the street used by the church on Sundays.

"You could see the vests saying police in the back, but the small badge saying ICE in the front," said Pastor Alex Vaiz.

Which is surprising since ICE policy was made clear in Sacramento three weeks ago.

"We don't arrest people on school grounds, we don't arrest people in churches," said Thomas Holman, director of ICE.

Responding to a FOX40 inquiry, an ICE spokesperson said agents were part of a surveillance team that had nothing to do with the church, that they believed it was a bank parking lot.

The building that houses the church doesn't look much like a church on the outside because it shares the space with an art gallery.

An art studio and a coffee shop sandwich the entrance, which has no sign.

But pastor Vaiz says huge banners mark the church and there were church signs 15 feet from the parked ICE vehicles. He did say they left right away after he introduced himself as the pastor.

"An hour and a half, they did return to the same parking lot knowing already that this was a church. For us it was intimidation," Vaiz said.

Latino advocates say it's a climate of fear.

"This happened on a Sunday. Are you worried about taking your children to school on Monday? That's the kind of chilling effects those kind of activities cause," said Miguel Cordova with the SEIU Latino Committee.

ICE told FOX40 that no one at the church was arrested or targeted and said that the Department of Homeland Security is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.

But some fear the damage to churchgoers has already been done.

"They're afraid that this Sunday they're going to come back again," Vaiz said.