LA County Sheriff Sued for Refusal to Release Immigrant Data

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) have filed a lawsuit to obtain information about the Los Angeles County's ties to federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The petition named Baca as the defendant in a lawsuit, which charges that the sheriff violated the California Public Records Act by refusing to disclose information about his dealings with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The groups suing Sheriff Baca claim he has not adequately responded to requests for information about Secure Communities, the 287(g) agreement and the Criminal Alien Program. In addition to local statistics, they are seeking guidelines and other detailed information about the programs.

NDLON's staff attorney Jessica Karp said, "ICE has used secrecy and deception to create monsters out of sheriff departments throughout the country. This is L.A., not Phoenix. We demand transparency from our sheriff, and we have zero tolerance for civil rights violations."

Section 287(g)

Section 287(g) of the Immigration Act allows the federal government to work with state and local police, permitting local police to perform immigration law enforcement functions. They are supposed to be trained and supervised by sworn U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Secure Communities

Under Secure Communities (S-Comm), the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to ICE to check against its immigration databases.

If a check indicates an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable due to a criminal conviction, ICE is supposed to take enforcement action by prioritizing the removal of individuals who "present the most significant threats to public safety" as determined by:

  • The severity of their crime
  • Their criminal history
  • Other factors - as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws

NILC has argued to Congress that, "two misguided trends have emerged in the relationship between police and immigration law: states have sought to legislate police involvement in the realm of federal immigration, and DHS has created deeply flawed programs that dictate how local police participate in federal immigration enforcement.

Many Problems with ICE's implementation of S-Comm

They have also outlined many problematic issues related to the DHS and ICE procedures with the Secure Communities program:

  • ICE's shifting use of the term "criminal alien" to encompass perceived immigrants
  • Pre-conviction fingerprint scanning as a mechanism to identify the most dangerous "criminal aliens"
  • ICE's failure to prioritize "the most dangerous and violent offenders"
  • Channeling immigrants into the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems through the use of racial profiling
  • The program's vulnerability to abuse and lack of proper oversight
  • ICE's lack of transparency and misleading campaign regarding a jurisdiction's ability to opt-out
  • The absence of a meaningful complaint procedure
  • The absence of governing rules regarding operation of the program
  • Repeated violations of an unclear and indiscriminate detainer policy

The lawsuit against Sheriff Baca is intended to force his office to revel

If you or a family member or relative have been stopped by the police and detained by ICE or DHS, you need legal help from a knowledgeable immigration attorney. The issues are complex and a criminal defense attorney may not be aware of all of the ramifications of immigration law and procedure.

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