For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Postings // Please Forward
Date: June 19, 2015
Contact: Claudia Bautista, email@example.com, (310) 909-3917
Sparking Community Anger, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department will Implement Controversial Deportation Program
Community Organizations Demand Real Opportunity for Input as 90 Day Deadline Looms
On May 12th, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to terminate the county’s 287(g) deportation program with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Despite strong community objections, The Board also requested the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) to work with ICE and community stakeholders to implement the new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), the replacement for the highly discredited Se Communities (S-Comm) program. DHS itself has acknowledged that S-Comm had a corrosive effect on trust in law enforcement. The County Board further recommended that the Sheriff take 90 days to develop a clear policy governing LASD’s participation in the new deportation program. But after two meetings, community organizations are starting to question whether the meetings were more for show than for actual community input.
With only a week’s notice, the Sheriff’s department hosted their second PEP “community” meeting last night at a detention center in Lynwood. The meeting was fundamentally one-sided by virtue of its location. “Representatives from the Sheriff’s Department admitted to have overlooked the fact that having such a meeting at a jail would deter a criminalized and persecuted community, already distrustful of law enforcement, from coming and voicing their concerns,” said Alex Alvarez from Dignity and Power Now.
“Report after report, including the President’s own Task Force on 21st Century Policing, has shown that involving local law enforcement in immigration seriously undermines public safety. Whether we call the program S-Comm or PEP-Comm, the end game is the same: the federal government is actively targeting immigrant communities for deportation and consequently sowing fear and mistrust into communities nationwide. Claiming improvements to PEP-Comm by removing ICE hold policies is disingenuous. The program still asks that local law enforcement provide ICE with a person’s address and release date, therefore giving them the tools they need to deport individuals who are integral to their family’s survival and wellbeing,” said Shiu-Ming Cheer from the National Immigration Law Center.
“PEP-Comm means all noncitizen immigrants in Los Angeles County have heightened consequences for routine interactions with Sheriffs,” said Mariana Mendoza from Enlace. She continued, “it undermines safety and is fundamentally unequal for immigrants to be subject to double punishment. Los Angeles County must take a stand and protect its residents from unjust deportations and criminalization.”
The main take away from the meeting is that the department appears to have already made up its mind: PEP will be implemented. When Claudia Bautista of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network asked a representative from County Counsel, “he clarified that the point of the meetings was only to discuss the list of crimes that the community believes are deportable offenses. They want the community to draw an arbitrary line separating those who are deserving and those who are undeserving. The same ‘felons not families’ deportation approach taken by the President, the same ‘dirty women not hard working immigrants’ criminalizing approach taken by Gloria Molina last October. We will stand together with all of our brothers and sisters, because everyone deserves equal protection under the law.”
“Repeatedly they told us that we could only ask questions, not give any comments or speeches; they told us to act civil and not react to the opposite side’s constant insults and statements of hate, we have been asking for transparency and accountability all along, and all we have seen has been back door deals and political moves to make it seem they are taking the voice of the community seriously, when we can see that’s not the case.” commented Edna Monroy, Southern California Organizer with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.