The Chilling Threat of ICE in Fresno’s Jail

 

For over two years, Fresno County Jail has been working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE. Fresno County Sheriff invited two ICE agents to work inside the jail reviewing the inmates’ backgrounds and criminal history to determine who did not have legal status. ICE was then free to deport these illegal citizens resulting in a total of 500 inmates being removed from the jail for such proceedings during this partnership.

Many organizations including the ACLU fought against the Fresno County Jail to no avail.

However, a new law has brought an end to the partnership. California Legislature enacted Senate Bill 54, which prohibits the exact conduct Fresno County Sheriff’s Office was engaged in with ICE.

The Legislature focused on the value that immigrants have to the California community and the distrust that is created by partnerships between state law enforcement and ICE.

Section 7284 of the Government Code, The California Values Act declares the following:

  • Immigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community. Almost one in three Californians is foreign born and one in two children in California has at least one immigrant parent.
  • A relationship of trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California.
  • This trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement, with the result that immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians.
  • Entangling state and local agencies with federal immigration enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has declared on National television that she does not support these laws, she disagrees with them, and she hopes that the Department of Justice sues California. However, she will follow the law and comply. The two ICE agents are no longer inside the Fresno County Jail. While the agents are no longer in the jail, it has been reported that they are picking up inmates when they are released from jail.

Despite the new law, many illegal individuals do not go to court for fear of being deported. People are avoiding court at all costs, even for simple traffic tickets. Members of our community are afraid that if they go to court they will be ordered to jail, even if for a day, only to end up deported: ripped from their homes, family, jobs, and community without so much as a good bye.

If this is a worry for you or someone you know, contact Proper Defense. We will evaluate your case and determine if we can go to court on your behalf and help you to clear up the warrant and the pending case. Call 559-314-4233 for a free consultation.

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