After Inauguration Day banner drops along the 5 freeway from Anaheim to San Juan Capistrano, the Orange County DREAM Team (OCDT) has kept pace issuing responses critical of the national discussion surrounding comprehensive immigration reform.
The organization's next local action is a planned rally on Friday at 1 p.m. outside the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Santa Ana demanding that it cease collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its 287(g) and Secure Communities (S-Comm) programs.
"We don't know when or if national immigration reform is going to happen," says OCDT member
. "Until then, we're trying to ensure that our communities are safe on a local level."
Key to that was a shakeup in early December when State Attorney General Kamala Harris informed law enforcement agencies that the federal Secure Communities program was optional and not mandatory. Shortly after, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who had been a staunch defender, publicly announced that his agency would modify its stance to be non-compliant in terms of the detention and transfer of 'low-level offenders.'
No such shift of any sorts has taken place with regards to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
"Although the Attorney General has opined that enforcement of Secure Communities is not mandatory, it is still the law," the OCSD says in a statement provided to the Weekly. "The Sheriff will continue to follow the law and honor immigration holds."
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Hernandez argues that programs like S-Comm are more counterproductive to their professed aims than anything else. "People don't feel like they can reach out the authorities because they're afraid of getting deported," she said. Along with her fellow DREAMers, she will deliver a letter at Friday's action demanding that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens stop separating families and halt its collaboration with ICE. "We're trying to get that conversation started."
In addition to S-Comm, the OCSD entered into a five-year contractual agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to detain immigrants in their facilities. It allows for 838 beds to be used for the purpose of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations. Currently there are 770 detainees between Theo Lacy and James A. Musick facilities. The Sheriff's Department is paid $118 per day for each detainee. In late November, Theo Lacy was outed in a report as one of the worst detention facilities in the nation.
"We're hoping to get the rest of the community involved with this public rally," Hernandez says. "We want people to voice their concerns about the Orange County Sheriff's Department's alliance with ICE."