We’re not saying they might not have some valid points to make about how Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are kept and treated.
But the groups coming to Yuba County, mostly from the Sacramento and San Francisco areas, likely care more about having us understand their point of view than than vice versa.
We might wish that detainees – at least those who aren’t accused of crimes – were better housed and more expeditiously processed. And in fact we’re probably the most likely of the communities involved to wish that Congress and the feds would work out a bonafide system for letting people in and out of the country to legally participate in our economy.
But we’re more likely to believe it’s acceptable for ICE to enforce immigration rules and standards. And our community would be severely impacted if the Yuba County Jail/ICE contract were somehow voided.
We’re pretty sure none of the visitors from the Bay Area or the Capitol City are concerned or even cognizant of the fact that the business we do with ICE helps keep our local law enforcement in place. The $5-plus million in annual revenue from ICE is a significant part of our county’s budget. We would never have kept up the present level of law enforcement service had it not been for those funds.
If we were to acquiesce and follow the wishes of the protest groups, how would we even begin to make up for the lost revenue? Would the protesters care to put forth some real ideas on that issue? Or do they believe we’re all on our own?
And one more reality: If Yuba County’s jail were not used to house ICE detainees, where’s the next closest facility that detainees would be shipped to? Would closing this facility help or hurt detainees and their families?
It was reported that hundreds gathered on the steps of the Yuba County Jail to protest the use of the facility as an ICE detention center. Tsuru for Solidarity, a group of Japanese American social justice advocates working to close detention centers and refugee communities, organized the protest. Most of the participants were from the Sacramento and the Bay areas and represented some 28 organizations, they said. Included were representatives of the Wheatland-based activism group Estamos Unidos.
They’re seeking an end to Yuba County’s contract allowing ICE to use the jail for detention of those accused of being illegal immigrants, as well as inhumane conditions at the jail.
Under terms of the latest agreement, if the daily number of detainees continues as is, it would generate $6.5 million per year. Officials say that revenue is critical to department operations, and we believe them. The agreement is only for the jail space to be used for housing – county staff is not engaged in enforcement or transportation. Most detainees are waiting immigration proceedings in San Francisco.
Assemblyman James Gallagher posted on Facebook that, “The individuals held here have committed crimes, many of them very serious crimes, in addition to being in the country illegally.” He warned that turning them loose would jeopardize public safety.
We can understand protesting to improve living conditions and to improve the system for processing and adjudicating immigration cases. We do not agree with simply ending the contract, or simply releasing detainees.
And we can’t at all understand why activists aren’t protesting and proposing changes to the front of the system – the inane and bogged down system for managing the legal crossing of borders for legitimate business.