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Activists ask Riverside County sheriff to end ICE program

According to a study done earlier this year, immigrants sometimes avoid reporting crimes to law enforcement due to police's role in immigration enforcement. Immigrants in Riverside County and across the nation fear that if they report a crime, officers will use that incident as a way to check their immigration status.

These types of worries have prompted immigration rights activists to take a stand by addressing 3,000 letters to Sheriff Stan Sniff of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. The letters are written by Riverside County residents and ask the department to stop participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287 (g) program. That program allows local police officers to enforce immigration laws. Three California law agencies, including the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, began participating in the program in 2006. The hope is that the department will let the contract expire. It officially ended in May, but the sheriff is currently reviewing a new agreement.

The immigration rights activists and members of the social justice group Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) recently held a news conference outside the department. They gave the department 500 letters and reportedly plan to give them 50 letters each day thereafter.

“We think the relationship between our community and the sheriff is very important. It’s important for us to live without fear, to live a tranquil life,” said a member of ICUC.

Although ICE deported more than 360,000 undocumented immigrants in fiscal year 2012, about 175,000 of those individuals were non-criminal immigrants. In either situation, a person facing deportation may highly benefit from the representation of an immigration lawyer. Their advice and support can be crucial in preventing future removal. 

Source: MyDesert.com, “Immigration activists to Riverside County: Drop ICE program,” Tatiana Sanchez, Aug. 6, 2013

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