Group calls for sheriff’s department to stop releasing inmates to ICE

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SAN DIEGO — Dozens of community members are calling on the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to stop releasing inmates to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The request came at the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ fourth Truth Act Forum Tuesday evening. The purpose of the annual meeting was to report on the sheriff’s department’s involvement with ICE’s access to people in custody throughout the last year.

San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said of the more than 51,000 people released from jail last year, 78 were released to ICE. Of the 78 transfers, the six most common charges included trafficking of controlled substances, robbery and assault.

“This entanglement, this collusion with ICE of our local law enforcement, results in our community not trusting the police,” said Ian Seruelo with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance of San Diego.

The sheriff’s department says it doesn’t transfer someone to ICE without a judicial warrant or qualified criminal charges. Critics say the sheriff’s department still has a choice to use its discretion even if a person released has qualified charges.

“In fact, SB 54 actually makes clear that it is not required. A law enforcement official shall have discretion to cooperate with immigration officials,” said Erin Tsurumoto Grassi with the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.

Other areas of California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, already have policies in place that prevent them from working with ICE at all.

“I can’t speak for the other sheriffs that have chosen not to participate in task forces, not participate to transfer people to ICE that meet the qualifications of the values act, but I would submit these sheriffs don’t share a 60 mile border with Mexico,” Gore said.

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