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LA County sheriff announces plans to limit cooperation with ICE

One of the hottest topics in last fall's election of a new sheriff for Los Angeles County was the vow of winner Alex Villanueva to limit the department's cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sheriff Villanueva is now about to announce plans to prevent LA County's jails from becoming a "pipeline for deportation."

One of the sheriff's first steps is to reduce the number of misdemeanors that could be used as the basis for removal and to shorten the length of time after conviction for using a misdemeanor conviction as the basis for removal. A second step is the possible discontinuation of publishing release dates online. ICE agents have been using this information to stake out inmates after they are released and take them into federal custody. Villanueva's most significant step so far is to prohibit ICE agents from entering the sheriff's department facilities. The ban took effect on Feb. 1. Previous sheriffs had allowed ICE officers easy access so that they could detain people they believed to be in the country illegally.

The sheriff was forced to abandon one controversial change in procedure. Immigrants who were known to have committed crimes were handed over to ICE agents in a courtyard next to the jail. When activists complained, the sheriff changed the procedure and barred ICE agents from the jail under all circumstances.

Immigration activists have mostly supported the new sheriff, but they have also criticized him for certain actions. Several watchdog groups contend that the sheriff has used unreliable statistics to support his claim that inmate violence in the jail is rising. Villanueva's Hispanic heritage may be an advantage that allows him to communicate more effectively with Los Angeles' large Hispanic population.

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Phone: 818-647-1002
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