Sacramento, Calif. - by Robert J Hansen
A community forum was held at the Sacramento County Administration building where the Northern ACLU and others denounced the Sheriff’s department’s coordination with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) yesterday.
Attorney Sean Riordan of the Northern American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it has evidence showing several examples of how the Sheriff cooperates with ICE to illegally deport individuals.
“This has happened far too many times. We know about many community members who have been sent to the ICE deportation system as a result of this illegal collaboration,” Riordan said.
California changed the law in 2017 passed SB 54 which prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using money or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes or conduct in connection with immigration enforcement by law enforcement agencies.
“We’ve known since day one, when the state set strict limits on cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and ICE, that the Sheriff violated the law,” Riordan said.
In an April letter to Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, the ACLU told the Board to prohibit the expenditure of County resources on cooperation with ICE, including notifying ICE about an inmate’s release and transferring an inmate to ICE.
“It is thus not true, as Sheriff Jones stated at the Forum, that there were ‘no coordinated activities’ between his Department and ICE. Each notification about a person’s time and date of release and transfer to ICE upon release represents a coordinated activity,” the letter said.
Since 2018, the Sheriff’s department has handed 151 community members to ICE, according to Dr. Rhonda Rios Kravitz of Sacramento Immigration Coalition & Alianza
Kravitz called on the Board of Supervisors to no longer fund the Sheriff’s department by adopting a resolution that ends funding that supports the County’s cooperation with ICE.
“The Movement for Immigration Justice calls for dramatic changes to the immigration system and ensure a focus on fair protections and adjudication,” Kravitz said.
The board had not responded to the resolution that the Northern ACLU’s and Sacramento Immigration Coalition sent on November 19.
Sheriff Scott Jones said that in 2020, the Sheriff's department did not cooperate or have any coordinated activities with ICE.
The forum was held while Sheriff Scott Jones spoke to the Board of Supervisors meeting about his department’s cooperation with ICE.
“We never inquire about the status,” Jones said. “We might ask where they were born.”
Jones said that no ICE detainees were held at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in 2020.
Supervisor Phil Serna questioned Jones about whether any coordination between ICE is occurring outside of the context of the Truth Act.
The Sheriff essentially said no.
“So the totality of any cursory communication or cooperation as it pertains to ICE is the SB 54 qualified notification?” Serna said.
“That’s it,” Jones said.
The exchange can be found here.
Serna said that he has not seen any reconciliation from the Sheriff’s Department with the figures presented by the ACLU.
“I just heard that the Sheriff talked to ICE 280 times last which completely contradicts what he just said,” Serna said. “I think the Sheriff quite frankly needs to do a better job.”
Sacramento County candidate Duke Cooney told the Board of Supervisors to protect and serve every resident regardless of documentation.
“A document is not the measure of a human being's worth or the value they hold within their families and their communities,” Cooney said.
Cooney said over twelve languages are spoken in South Sacramento which represents people from all over the world all with different beliefs and customs that also need to be protected.
“This County must take every step possible to ensure our County tax dollars are not being used to support further community trauma,” Cooney said. “If it’s that difficult then step aside, and let the new generation take over.”
Several other California counties have prohibited cooperation between their Sheriff departments and ICE such as Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
“We strongly believe that Sacramento should join these counties and get out of the business of helping to feed people into a dysfunctional and inhumane immigration detention system,” the Northern ACLU said.
Serna said a resolution could be worked on but could be voted on around June 2022.
The full forum can be found here.