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- 05-17-2012, 01:06 PM #1
Sheriff: Won't Jail Undocumented Non-Criminals
Sheriff: Won't Jail Undocumented Non-Criminals
Forum about immigration and deportations revolves around 'Insecure Communities.'
By Jennifer Squires
Sheriff Phil Wowak told a group of Watsonville residents and leaders that enforcing deportation law was not the job of sheriff's deputies or police officers in Santa Cruz County during an emotionally-charged forum about Secure Communities Wednesday evening.
The event—organized by County Supervisor Greg Caput—brought service providers, elected officials and law enforcement together to speak with residents about immigration issues and specifically Secure Communities, a federal program that identifies illegal immigrants through county jail systems and deports them.
"We do not ask for your citizenship when you are the victim of a crime or the witness to a crime," Wowak said to those who gathered at the Veteran's Memorial Hall on East Beach Street for the event. He added that local police should not be checking people's immigration status; that is a federal issue.
The general discussion centered around how to dispel the atmosphere of fear and segregation that the federal program appears to have created, though Wowak tried to educate the audience about Secure Communities and how it's applied in Santa Cruz County.
Secure Communities was established to identify violent criminal offenders in the U.S. who also were illegal immigrants and deport them. As the program has expanded—the goal is to be in every county in the country—it has become evident that many non-violent criminals and people with no criminal record are being deported.
"The majority of people deported under this law are not violent criminals," said Karina Cervantez, a panelist and a representative of the Immigration Action Group.
Community leaders said Wednesday that this has created a culture of fear among immigrants. People are afraid to report crime and risk interacting with law enforcement.
"I would like to think that most of Santa Cruz County is against this program," said Ramiro Medrano, a Watsonville resident.
Hector Solis, a Watsonville resident for the past 25 years, told Wowak: "let's call it 'insecure communities."
"It has come to destroy many homes, many families," said Solis, a marriage counselor and leader in the neighborhoods near the Pajaro River levee.
People's fingerprints are taken when they are booked into Santa Cruz County Jail. Those prints are run through multiple databases, including a federal system that includes those with immigration violations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can "flag" jail inmates who are wanted and put them on a 48-hour hold, giving immigration officials time to pick up that person and take them to a federal holding facility.
From there, they enter deportation proceedings and typically are removed from the U.S.
"We have the possibility of fracturing families," Caput said.
Solis talked about a local woman who's husband was deported, leaving her behind to provide for their four children.
"This is very sad," he said. "It's causing a lot of problems."
Laura Segura, executive director of Women's Crisis Support~Defensa De Mujeres said she has real concerns that victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and others who seek support from her agency may be subjected to immigration-related questions that could wreak havoc on their families.
"We can't, in good faith, advise them to call the police if they are undocumented," Segura said.
Jorge Mendez, chair of the county's Latino Affairs Commission and a panelist, said he doesn't believe deportation should be a function of local police and believes Santa Cruz is too progressive to be a part of this program.
Wowak responded, "I feel it is my obligation to cooperated with the federal government."
Several people called on Wowak to ignore the law and release people with immigration violations.
The sheriff said he would not do that, but would release people from County Jail who had "ICE holds" but had not been charged with a crime. He assured people that officers out on patrol would not ask residents for immigration documents.
"I don't want to see people in our community afraid to talk to law enforcement when they're in trouble or in danger," Wowak said.
A possible remedy to the problem—at least in part—discussed during the forum was the Trust Act, a state Assembly bill that would bar local law enforcement from detaining a person with an immigration hold who has not been convicted of a violent crime.
"The idea is to protect people who are undocumented by haven't had their day in court," Cervantez explained.
Wowak said he would enfroce the Trust Act, which is supported by local Assemblymen Alejo and Bill Monning, if it passes.
"When the Trust Act becomes law, I will absolutely honor it," Wowak said.
Caput summed it up in saying that people needed to be treated with dignity and respect.
"You don't have to have documents to be a good person," he said.
Sheriff: Won't Jail Undocumented Non-Criminals - Watsonville, CA PatchNO AMNESTY
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 05-17-2012, 07:07 PM #2
Let me see her now...just thinking out loud mind you, but if your undocumented in this PC world that means your in a country illegally. If your in a country illegally you are committing a crime, after all you are breaking the law hence the work illegal. If your committing a crime you would be considered a criminal, i.e. someone who commits crimes. Therefore it would seem to me that all undocumented are criminals and can be jailed. Is there anything wrong with that train of thought?Never give up! Never surrender! Never compromise your values!*
NO MORE ROTHSCHILD STOOGES IN PUBLIC OFFICE!!!
- 05-17-2012, 08:00 PM #3The sheriff said he would not do that, but would release people from County Jail who had "ICE holds" but had not been charged with a crime. He assured people that officers out on patrol would not ask residents for immigration documents.
The Department of Justice should immediately SUE him for undermining federal immigration law and profiling. JMO
- 05-17-2012, 08:20 PM #4
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