This week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to end their prison partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in response to concern from immigrant advocates that the trust in local police by immigrants was being eroded by their collaboration. On Tuesday the supervisors voted 3-2 to put an end to a scheme that enabled ICE agents to go inside county jails to review the immigration status of inmates and potentially deport them.
The supervisors then went on to vote 4-1 in favor of adopting a jail policy that closely resembled the Priority Enforcement Program developed by the Obama administration, to ensure that undocumented immigrants who have committed serious and/or violent crimes are at the head of the line for deportation before those who have only committed minor infractions.
Opponents of the supervisors’ decision to end the partnership with ICE say they worry that the community will be put in danger by possibly allowing violent undocumented immigrants to get out of being deported. The decision was vehemently opposed by a number of families whose relatives were actually killed by such immigrants, though immigration advocates have criticized the decision for not going far enough.
“They presented it as a kinder and gentler way for ICE to collaborate with local police,” says Sheila Kuehl, the Los Angeles County Supervisor. “I told them it’s not kinder or gentler enough.” Advocates claim too many immigrants have already been deported due to ancient convictions or minor offences.