Relationship between Fresno Co. sheriff's office, ICE agents discussed at open forum

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An open forum in Fresno focused on the relationship between the sheriff's office and federal ICE agents, and to what extent the two sides should be working together.

Dozens of people wearing t-shirts that called for the end of Immigration and Customs Enforcement filled the halls of the Fresno County Hall of Records Tuesday for the TRUTH Act forum.

Many of these same individuals stepped to the microphone asking for transparency from Fresno County law enforcement agencies when dealing with immigrants who are in ICE custody.

"One terrible practice is the publicizing of personal information including release dates of those in the County's jails custody," said Maricela Sanchez with the Northen California ACLU. "The Sheriff's action is out of step with our values, compassion, humanity and community."

The hour-long forum heard from both sides of the debate.

Members of the public expressed their concerns and asked for policy change.

"Publishing release dates is a cruel attempt to undermine the California Values Act or SB54," Sanchez said. "Opening the door to painful due process abuse and racial profiling."

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office was given the opportunity to explain how it is enforcing state laws that protect immigrants.

The department also backed up its claims with recent data.

In 2018, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, over 31,000 people were taken into custody by deputies. 661 of them were considered ICE Detainees, only three of those inmates were transferred to ICE.

"A deputy sheriff will not contact a person based on perception of their country of origin or their immigration status. We do not and will not ask people their immigration status," said Fresno County Sheriff's Margaret Mims. "We do not investigate or enforce immigration law. We don't have the personnel to do that. That's someone else's job."

The law requires police agencies to collect information when ICE requests transfer holds and interviews with individuals in custody.

"I support Sheriff Margaret Mims and the great work she's done for our County and the residents across our County and I think she's very transparent," said Fresno County Supervisor Steven Brandau.

The TRUTH Act was put in place to protect the rights of undocumented people from being deported. However, there are some exceptions depending on the crime.
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