Over the objections of eleven county residents, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week renewed a commitment to have the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department cooperate with federal authorities in identifying illegal immigrants and targeting them for deportation.
While a representative of the county sheriff’s department indicated that the identification and deportation effort will be angled only at those individuals who have already been arrested for engaging in illegal activity, critics voiced their misgivings that the program will entail an undeniable element of ethnic profiling that will be aimed primarily at Hispanics, including citizens, legal aliens and illegal aliens alike, such that it will discourage illegal aliens who have witnessed crimes or been victimized by them from cooperating with law enforcement officers.
The board approved a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the Sheriff’s Department to perform certain immigration enforcement functions for a period of three years and authorized the sheriff to sign the memorandum of agreement on behalf of the county.
According to sheriff’s deputy chief John McMahon, “Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296, authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), acting through the Assistant Secretary of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to enter into written agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to enable qualified personnel to perform certain functions of an immigration officer. On September 20, 2005, the board of supervisors approved such an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This board action included the addition of nine sheriff’s custody specialist positions to perform this function. To ensure the individuals assigned to these positions are qualified to properly identify criminal illegal aliens in the county’s corrections system, they are required to pass a federal background investigation, attend training conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and pass an examination at the conclusion of the training. Under this program, upon disposition of the criminal case involving a person identified as an illegal alien, the sheriff’s department will turn the individual over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible prosecution on federal immigration violations.”
Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt took the lead among his colleagues in pressing forward with renewing the sheriff’s department’s cooperative agreement with the federal government for the program.
According to available figures, last year the sheriff’s department screened 3,720 inmates jailers thought might be illegal immigrants and placed detainer holds on 2,359 of them. So far this year, jail personnel have interrogated 3,574 inmates with regard to their nationality and placed holds on 2,742 inmates.
McMahon emphasized that “We do not interview or screen anyone until they are lawfully booked into one of our facilities.”
According to a number of people who petitioned the board of supervisors not to enter into the agreement with the federal government, they do not believe that the sheriff’s department will restrict itself to enforcing Section 287(g) after legitimate arrests are made but will instead use it as a pretext to insert itself into the lives of otherwise law abiding Latinos.
Filed under: Civil Liberties, DHS, Drugs, Education Industrial Complex, Immigration, Information, Military Industrial Complex, Prison Industrial Complex, Privacy, Religion Industrial Complex, San Bernardino County, SB DA, SB Judges, SB Military, SB Sheriff, SB Supervisors | Tagged: Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, Brad Mitzelfelt, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, San Bernardino County, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, Department of Homeland Security, Patricio Guillen, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, John McMahon, Immigration and Nationality Act, Homeland Security Act, St Bernardine Catholic Church, Justice for Immigrants Coalition, Bobby Jo Chavarria, Mario Anaya, Luis Moises Escalante, Pedro Sanchez, Jose Garcia, Jenia Dunlap, Suzanne Foster, Alfonse Romain, Loida Alvarado, National Day Labor Organizing Network | Leave a comment »