Central Valley leaders appeal to President Trump on immigration

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Central Valley is hoping to have an effect on immigration policy coming from President Trump.

The president walked in to a standing ovation before his speech to the sheriffs and police chiefs from the biggest cities in the country in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

"I have great, great love for what you do and the way you do it," he said.

But when the applause died down, immigration took center stage. The president promised to listen to people on the ground so he'll know how the laws affect what they do.

And as he spoke, two Central Valley law enforcement leaders took it all in. Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer and Fresno County sheriff Margaret Mims have pushed back a little against the president's suggestion they get involved in immigration enforcement.

But Sheriff Mims looked for common ground.

"Everybody also agrees that criminals need to go," she said. "We cannot have people here illegally if they're going to be committing crimes, so they need to go."

Not quite everyone agrees. The ACLU and other advocates for undocumented immigrants say her choice to allow customs agents in the Fresno County jail tangles her up in a "deportation machine"

"When we see this collaboration happening between local law enforcement and immigration, people see the lines being blurred," said Luis Ojeda with Fresno Immigrant Youth in Action.

Valley Congressman David Valadao has also weighed in, writing a letter to President Trump and pressing him to create a path to residency for millions of undocumented immigrants, many of whom work the fields of the Central Valley.

Sheriff Mims says law-abiding immigrants aren't her concern, but she does expect some sort of reform coming from the White House.

"The devil's going to be in the details," she said. "We can start in one place with some common ground, but what the details are going to be are very important."

Sheriff Mims says it's clear President Trump means what he says, and he'll take a tough approach to immigration law.

She hopes this start to a conversation signals there won't be a wall between the White House and local law enforcement.
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