The President’s immigration policy has prompted fears from our local immigrant community, but local officials in Ventura County are hoping to ease their concerns.
“The federal government has no authority to tell us how to enforce federal laws and they haven’t tried to exercise anything and they haven’t put any pressure on us. We have made it perfectly clear that at least here in California we are not going to do it,” said Sheriff Geoff Dean with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
“Local law enforcement is not in the business of immigration enforcement. We never have been in my entire career, and that is not going to change. It can’t change,” said Chief Scott Whitney with the Oxnard Police Department.
Ventura County’s law enforcement community came together to make sure they are all on the same page when it comes to immigration enforcement, and figure out how to deal with the new political climate. At this point they say they will continue to operate the same way they always have.
“We want to make it clear that we are not going to be involved in immigration enforcement out in the street. We don’t want the people that live in our community to be afraid to talk to us. Whether they are a victim, witness or anybody in the community for fear of deportation, and that is not going to happen and hasn’t happened and there is no reason that it will ever happen in the future,” said Dean.
“I’ve personally in my career many times have seen immigrants that are afraid to report crimes of violence and that fear was because of immigration status. If you have too much of your population that is fearful of the police, then you have people operate in the shadows, and people that pray on them and that and that is not good for the community,” said Whitney.
However, local law enforcement does not believe that the idea of a sanctuary city or state is a good one. They believe illegal immigrants that commit serious crimes should not be released back into our community.
“We think that if someone does time for rape, child molest or murder and they are in our county jail and they are due to get released, I really don’t think our community wants those people sent back out into the streets to get another victim, so in those cases we think it is very important to communicate with ICE and when appropriate they can make a removal from our county,” said Dean.
Ventura County says last year immigration officials only removed 1% of the 27,000 booked into the Ventura County Jail. The charges ranged from homicide and rape to driving under the influence.