Under the Truth Act, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office must report how it is enforcing the laws that protect immigrants. But after an hour and a half of public comment Tuesday, the general sentiment from attendees is that they don’t believe KCSO is enforcing the laws that protect immigrants. In fact, most of the 34 speakers said, they are certain KCSO is working with ICE.
Tuesday was the first ‘Truth Act Forum’ in Kern County. “Truth” stands for “Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds.” The act essentially supports and shields immigrant communities. And the forum is supposed to create transparency between local law enforcement and the public.
But many people are convinced – KCSO is colluding with ICE. And the numbers don’t help the department fight those claims.
Kern County is one of the top 20 counties in the country with the most ICE arrests. In 2017, ICE arrested 486 individuals upon their release from Sheriff’s Office custody. Under the California Values Act, local law enforcement can only notify ICE of individual’s release dates under very limited circumstances.
So the question then is, how did Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agents know the release date for those 486 individuals? If Kern County Sheriff’s Office really wasn’t working with ICE to get them those dates.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood wasn’t there to answer any of these questions or set the record straight. This forum has been planned for several months. We asked Chief Deputy Tyson Davis where the sheriff was Tuesday. He told us he was at a meeting out of the county.