(May 12, 2015, Los Angeles) – Hundreds of immigrants, workers and activists on Tuesday packed into the Los Angeles Supervisors’ chambers as they met to decide whether to repeal an agreement with federal authorities that deputizes sheriff’s officials to decide if inmates in their jails can be deported immediately upon release.
The protesters were there to describe the damage to themselves and their communities of Secure Communities (S-Comm), a type of law enforcement agreement known as 287(g) that allows the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to access local jails and forces county agents to become immigration enforcers by singling out detainees for deportation.
The record is clear on S-Comm: it has resulted in abuses that have landed many people with only misdemeanors, as well as those merely detained but not convicted of anything, on a bus to the border.
Last year, the Board voted to renew its 287(g) agreement with the federal government, even as many other communities have dropped the arrangement over the years. In California, only Los Angeles and Orange Counties still have 287(g) agreements in force. Today’s motion, sponsored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas, should end the sorry litany of abuses this agreement has allowed.
“This decade-old mess of an agreement that targets our community and destroys our families should end now,” said Martha Arévalo, Executive Director of CARECEN Los Angeles. “Our hopes are high that the board will vote to end 287(g), but we still worry about ICE plans to make Los Angeles County a model for a new program, PEP, which we fear is open to the same abuse.”
Top administration immigration figures have acknowledged that 287(g) and S-Comm have poisoned relations between immigrant communities and local law enforcers. In his memo announcing the end of S-Comm last November, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also admitted that “a number of federal courts have rejected the authority of state and local law enforcement agencies to detain immigrants pursuant to federal detainers issued under the current Secure Communities program.”
Erika Pinheiro, a CARECEN staff attorney, spoke in support of ending 287(g) and cautioned against adopting its replacement, the Priority Enforcement Program, (or PEP-Comm) without adequate accountability mechanisms. “PEP should not sacrifice due process or oversight in the name of public safety,” she told supervisors, noting that non-citizen county jail inmates have no access to immigration counsel before they talk to ICE. "The Board should demand that the L.A. Sheriff’s Department show that they will implement PEP in a manner that protects family unity and promotes local, not federal, enforcement priorities.”
We encourage the Board of Supervisors to stand with families and immigrants in their communities to end 287(g) and ensure the safety of everyone in Los Angeles County.
CARECEN has worked for 31 years to protect the rights and dignity of Central American and Latino immigrants in Southern California. Since its founding in 1983, when thousands of Central Americans were fleeing the brutality of civil war, CARECEN has worked to change unjust immigration policies, win legal status for immigrants, and foster community activism on issues such as education reform, workers and immigrant rights, economic justice and community strengthening.