Protesters urge sheriff to stop turning over immigrant detainees to federal officials.
Scores of students and activists delivered a letter Feb. 1 to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens urging her to not enforce a federal mandate that aims to deport undocumented immigrants.
“We demand that you do not contribute to the continuous criminalization and dehumanization of our community through Secure Community programs,” read Orange County Dream Team member Hairo Cortes from the letter to those rallying in front of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Secure Communities is a federal crosschecking system that requires local police to detain and transfer undocumented immigrants to the Department of Homeland Security. The majority of those who are detained are deported, Cortes said.
In December, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said immigration detainer requests are not mandatory, and each agency may make its own decision without working with Secure Communities.
Following Harris’ announcement, the Los Angeles Police Department agreed not to detain any undocumented immigrants under misdemeanor charges or nonviolent crimes.
“No community is safe, if we are more afraid of our cops than our criminals,” said OCDT activist Gerson Cortes.
Hutchens did not appear and instead a Spanish-speaking sheriff’s representative received the letter, delivered by OCDT members Tony Ortuno and Alicia Martinez.
Among immigrant detainees, 29 percent of individuals are convicted of minor crimes, including sentences of less than one year, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Out of those deported, 26 percent had misdemeanor immigration violations and no criminal convictions.
Last year Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1081, known by supporters as the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools Act (TRUST), which would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from turning over arrestees with minor offenses to federal immigration authorities.
The OCDT would like it to be incorporated into the Orange County Sheriff’s Department detainee procedures to help focus deportation holds on those who have committed serious crimes.
The OCDT is working with the Los Angeles Dream Team to develop a plan for legalization that would include a pathway to citizenship that would take no more than five years and have no guest worker program along with other proposals.