Blog Archive

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Supervisors continue support of screening immigration status of immigrants

By Troy Anderson Staff Writer
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 10/19/2010

Despite complaints about deportations of illegal immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, the Board of Supervisors has renewed an agreement with federal immigration officials to screen inmates' immigration status in Los Angeles County jails.

The supervisors first approved the controversial program on a 3-2 vote in January 2005. Since that time, sheriff's custody assistants have interviewed more than 52,000 inmates and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has placed deportation holds on more than 20,000, county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said.

"Even though I was hesitant about this at first, this program has operated for the most part fairly effectively and eliminated many of the criminal aliens who prey on people," Supervisor Gloria Molina said. "At this point, I think it merits our support."

But immigrant advocates said they were disappointed by last week's vote. The program has resulted in the deportation of many immigrants who have not been convicted of any crimes, the said.

"We submitted evidence to the supervisors that this program is deporting individuals who have not been convicted of a crime," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "What we've found is a lot of individuals were turned over to ICE for infractions and misdemeanors, like driving without a license or vending without a license."

Gladys Limon, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the vote will continue to create a rift between law enforcement officials and local communities.

"That relationship, trust and confidence is critical to the success of law enforcement generally and for the protection and safety of our communities," Limon said.

The supervisors' vote to renew the agreement came after ICE asked agencies across the nation to sign revised agreements that improve oversight and management of the program. Under the agreement with ICE, deputies question inmates about their immigration status and refer those about to be released to ICE for possible deportation.

A Police Assessment Resource Center study found 28 percent of those referred to ICE had been charged with misdemeanors or infractions, such as joy-riding, fare evasion or driving without a license.