Jerry Dyer reaches out to undocumented community

FRESNO, Calif.

Dozens of people gathered at Yokomi Elementary School in Downtown Fresno to discuss issues affecting the immigrant community and law enforcement. The concern for many are deportations.

"I want them to stop. Cus emotionally it hurts. It hurts us to be separated from our families," said Christina Olea, undocumented immigrant.

Christina Olea said she knows first hand the emotional stress of having a relative detained by ICE agents. "My brother, who was my guardian, was held by ICE, and all these, was overwhelming."

Activists say the fear of deportations is keeping undocumented people fearful of law enforcement.

"Were not going to be initiating a deportation process. We're not concerned with their immigration status. We're concerned with them being victims of crime and reporting crimes to us," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.

Dyer said his department focuses on preventing crime, regardless of immigration status. "We absolutely need some comprehensive immigration reform so there could be consistency with local, state and federal government."

But it was the person who wasn't at the forum who was the topic of conversation -- Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. According to the ACLU, more than 2,000 deportations have occurred in Fresno County since 2010.

"Forty percent of the people have no criminal record at all. So the local law enforcement is spending their time rounding up people who have no criminal record at all. That is not what law enforcement should be doing," said Pam Whalen, ACLU.

Sheriff Mims sent the group a statement saying the county will continue to comply with ICE holds.

Just this past week, Mims joined President Obama in Washington D.C. to support proposed immigration reform. On Tuesday, the senate voted to move forward with the landmark legislation.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.