The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is considering a measure which would prevent the Santa Rita Jail from detaining illegal immigrants. Approximately 2,000 undocumented individuals have been deported.
At the current time the sheriff’s department is enrolled in the federal Secure Communities program. As part of the program, law enforcement officials voluntarily send fingerprints for new arrestees to federal authorities. These prints are cross checked to determine a person’s immigration status. One member of the County Board of Supervisors said this practice is unethical and it hinders trust between law enforcement and the community.
The supervisor is requesting the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department remove itself from the program entirely. The sheriff, though, does not report to their office. Proponents of the plan say that detaining and deporting immigrants is separating families and that it does a lot more harm than good. They also point out that many surrounding counties have voluntarily removed themselves from participation.
The sheriff said he is simply doing his job and that it is up to Immigration Customs Enforcement to handle these types of cases. ICE can ask jails to hold inmates for as long as 2 days after their release. This gives persons in that agency time to come and pick the immigrant up. Some have said that most of these people have never committed a serious crime and that those who had were being charged with low-level misdemeanor offenses.
The Santa Rita Jail, though, reportedly said it is more focused on public safety and that they will not allow the supervisors to tell them how to manage the jail.