LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday in favor of the removal of federal immigration agents from county jails.
The vote, however, also asked Sheriff Jim McDonnell to continue to cooperate with ICE, creating new questions about county policy.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department consult with community organizations and re-evaluate its working relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the next 90 days.
“I see this as an opportunity to move forward because we have a new sheriff. We have a new board,” Solis said.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also voted her support for terminating the 2014 agreement, while Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe cast the dissenting votes.
According to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the 287(g) program provides local law enforcement agencies with the opportunity to team with ICE in order to address specific challenges within their communities, and to determine if inmates should be referred to immigration authorities for deportation.
In an effort to restore trust in law enforcement, Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote a motion to end the agreement with ICE in order to protect all residents, and to respect civil rights.
“Victims or witnesses are less willing to come forward when they fear that any contact with law enforcement could lead to deportation,” explained Solis. “The 287(g) program has hindered rather than helped our community’s safety. It’s time we terminate this agreement and start rebuilding that trust.”
In fact, officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have acknowledged that programs such as 287(g) have caused a “reservoir of distrust” for law enforcement among immigrants.
If the motion is approved, the agreement will immediately be terminated, and will subsequently remove ICE offices from county jails. ICE agents that have been permanently housed within the county jails will also be removed.
Officials explained the motion will not prevent the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from working with federal authorities to keep the most dangerous criminals in custody.
“The Sheriff’s Department is responsible for helping people in their time of need, and investigating crimes that have occurred regardless of the individual’s immigration status,” said Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “I welcome the opportunity to work with local, state and federal leaders as we develop policies and procedures that appropriately balance both promoting public safety and fortifying trust with the multi-ethnic communities that make up Los Angeles County.”
“As to those individuals, we will work with federal authorities to notify them in advance, and help facilitate a timely and seamless transfer to ICE custody prior to the individual’s release into the community,” added McDonnell.
On Monday, immigrants rights leaders expressed that ICE must be fully evicted from local jails, after hearing the board will be voting to end it’s agreement with the DHS.
In 2014, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties cancelled their agreement with ICE.
The 287(g) program has existed since 2005.
Officials are expected to vote on the motion around 9:30 a.m., during a meeting that will be held in downtown Los Angeles.