Los Angeles County Sheriff

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy inside the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. (Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg)

By Kate Linthicum
Ovtober 7, 2014

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities designed to target potentially deportable immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes.

The board voted 3-0 to extend the contract after a tense hearing in which dozens of activists blamed the program for eroding trust in law enforcement among immigrant communities.

The program, known as 287(g), places federal immigration agents inside county jails and trains jail employees to investigate whether inmates convicted of certain crimes are in the country illegally. Inmates identified through the program are often turned over to federal authorities after they are released from jail.

Supervisors Gloria Molina, Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich voted to approve the agreement. Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained.

Yaroslavsky said he wanted to see more data on the program, saying quarterly reports produced by the Sheriff’s Department since 2010 have been “superficial.”

He held up a one-page report sent to the board in August that he said included little more than the number of interviews conducted by ICE-trained jail employees (339 during a three-month period that ended July 31), and called for more detail about what crimes individuals identified through the program had been convicted of.

During Tuesday’s hearing, advocates said a host of immigrants without serious criminal records have found themselves in deportation proceedings because of 287(g).

Blanca Perez, 34, told the board that she ended up in ICE custody after being arrested for illegally selling ice cream bars outside her son’s school in Van Nuys. Perez, a Mexican immigrant who came to the country illegally, said she was transferred from a jail facility to an ICE detention center after an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy questioned her about her immigration status.

“Please end this program,” she told the supervisors. “It separates families.”

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