Immigrant-rights activists, capitalizing on a policy change announced by the Los Angeles Police Department, called on the county Sheriff's Department today to prohibit federal immigration agents from entering county jails and stop sharing information on detainees.
Dozens of activists, assembled as the ICE Out of LA Coalition, protested outside the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration to urge an end to county cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Organizers said the coalition includes more than 30 groups, including labor unions, churches and other faith-based associations, along with legal and civil rights advocates.
"There shouldn't be any collaboration between ICE and law enforcement," said Edna Monroy of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Such cooperation will only "lead to further insecurity and more fear," she said.
On Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced that the department would no longer comply with most detention requests made by ICE officials.
Garcetti said the city would not release "violent or serious criminals," but would ensure that detention requests are subject to judicial review.
Both Beck and the mayor cited the need for respect and trust between the police and the communities they serve.
According to the Sheriff's Department, the agency has stopped holding individuals on ICE detainers, but does coordinate with federal agents so they can take inmates into custody as they are released.
"We are currently evaluating our procedures with our federal partners," LASD spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told City News Service.
Nishida acknowledged that two ICE buses arrive daily to pick up recently released inmates, but stressed that the department is "not holding anyone past their normal release date."
During today's rally, some people who had been detained in county jails told stories about being held for weeks or even months because they lacked a driver's license or showed up to pay fines for driving without a license. It was not clear whether those incidents occurred before or after the department's change in policy.
In April, a federal court in Oregon ruled that local sheriff's departments were not required to honor ICE requests to hold individuals no longer facing criminal charges or who were eligible for bail. The ruling, one of several recent decisions that have set limits on ICE detainers, also found that local jurisdictions may be held liable for damages in such cases.
In response, 30 California jurisdictions and 70 more nationwide have announced a ban on compliance with immigration detainers, according to ICE Out of LA Coalition organizers.
Following the rally, coalition organizers presented a letter to the Board of Supervisors demanding prohibitions on ICE agents in county jails and on notifications to ICE about release dates or home addresses of arrestees.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked county attorneys to provide a legal analysis of the city's decision and the county's leeway in setting policy. A report is expected back next week.