Tulare County officials review ICE access in 2017 at public meeting

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The group called ICE Out of Tulare County has made their message clear.

They want local law enforcement to be upfront about their interactions with ICE, and abide by state immigration laws, such as The Truth Act, which requires that they provide inmates with certain paperwork if ICE wants to talk to them.

"We don't know what's happening inside, when someone's detained," said ICE Out of Tulare County's Daniel Penaloza. "We don't know what's really going on. So today's forum is to learn about those things and to ask the questions and to get answers to our questions."

The Truth Act also requires that California cities and counties present information about ICE's access to individuals from the previous year at a public forum.

Tulare County officials presented the 2017 statistics on Tuesday afternoon.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office received 244 various types of requests from ICE.

Of those, 107 were transferred to the federal agency, while 137 were not.

"The thing that frustrates me about this report is that we have 244 requests from ICE-that less were transferred than were not transferred," said one speaker. "That should have been 244 people transferred to ICE and deported from our country."

The sheriff's office also shared some of the reasons why ICE was denied access to inmates in those 137 cases.

But some say the information provided at the meeting just wasn't enough, and argued that the sheriff's office needs to restore trust in local immigrant communities by limiting collaboration with ICE.

"We don't know how often ICE has requested to interview people, how often those folks have been turned over to ICE for interviews," one woman said. "So there's a lot of information that's missing."

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux says his department isn't in the business of enforcing federal immigration laws.

But he is concerned about public safety and believes state laws like SB 54, which restricts communication between local agencies and ICE, makes Tulare County less safe.

Contrary to what immigrant-rights advocates say, the Sheriff says members of the undocumented community are not afraid of local law enforcement.

"What we they have repeated to us over and over again is that if them as an undocumented person reports their neighbor who is undocumented, causing havoc in our community, that the sheriff under SB 54 is going to release them back into that community to which they will retaliate," he said. "That's what they're most in fear of, but that's not the narrative we hear."

Supervisors didn't add any of their own comments today, and weren't required to take any action.
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