Activists want San Diego County sheriff to stop helping ICE

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is holding a rare evening forum to show residents how much its Sheriff Department is working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

During the online Truth Act community forum, the Sheriff’s Department is expected to provide an update on how many people the sheriff has transferred into ICE custody over the past year.

In 2017, the figure was 1,143. In 2018 it fell to 266. And in 2019 it was 271 people.

The Truth Act, which became California state law in 2016, provides a series of “know your rights” measures for people who have been arrested by local law enforcement, and it requires that any local law enforcement agency that transfers people to ICE to conduct at least one public forum about it every year.

Marian writes anti-ICE message on her car. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Activists say the Sheriff’s Department is exploiting a loophole in the law by publicizing names of people it detains.

“What they do, is they will publicize names of people so ICE can have access to that information and ICE will wait for them once they are released, so they can detain them or deport them,” said Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee.

Rios says it’s a case of racial profiling and against California law.

“I would like to see Sheriff’s Department to be held to same standards as other police department across the state of California … abide by the law not to share information with ICE,” Rios said.

Caravan of anti-ICE demonstrators outside San Diego County’s Administration Building. (Khrystyne Valena/KSWB)

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department would not comment on its policy, but it did release a statement saying it releases names “in an effort to maintain transparency:”

“Since the legislation went into effect our department has, in an effort to maintain transparency with the community, been housing SB54-related reports on our public website. In this section the public has the ability to locate 2019 data associated with ICE interview requests as well as the CA Values Act report submitted to the State Attorney General’s office. Tomorrow evening‘s presentation will essentially report on these data sets. The evening meeting seeks to invite more community members to participate in the forum. However, we do not see the Truth Act Forum as the only opportunity to hear from the community on this matter. Our department engages with various immigrant and refugee community groups throughout the year in an effort to maintain an ongoing dialogue pertaining to public safety matters and demystify our department’s role with immigration enforcement (a document was also created to help with such exchanges).”

Rios and others would like County Supervisors to order the Sheriff’s Department to stop releasing names of detainees.

“The County Board of Supervisors has the authority to dictate whether or not the Sheriff Department can continue with this policy,” Rios said.

It’s unclear whether the board will make any changes during Tuesday night’s forum.

Until two years ago, all five board members were Republican, and for the most part, very tough on undocumented migrants.

In 2018, it elected a Democrat to the board. This year, two more were elected giving Democrats a majority on the board when they take office early next year.

Rios is hopeful at some point in the near future, the board will make changes to the sheriff’s policy.

“We will not stand for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department sending information to ICE.”

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