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Immigration Advocates Renew Call For An End To ICE Agents In Fresno County Jail

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It has been one year since the Fresno Sheriff’s Office began allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents into the county jail to check for undocumented immigrants. Now, immigration advocates are calling for an end to the practice.

Rallying outside the county courthouse, a small group of advocates held signs reading “ICE out of Fresno”.

Luis Ojeda, who himself is living in the country without documentation, says the practice sows fear in the Hispanic community that leads to fewer people reporting crimes.

“And our community is already afraid. And if this is only amplifying that fear, then it is really bad for our community. And what we are saying is that it is time to separate the two,” Ojeda says.

In the year since the program started more than 231 people have been identified and deported.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims was not able to comment Thursday, but in a recent video, she defended the program saying it only targets the worst criminal offenders and does not single out law-abiding undocumented immigrants or victims.

“If you come here into this country, and you are not here legally, and you commit a crime you are going to be held accountable. There are no two ways about that,” Mims says.

The rally comes on the same day as the Supreme Court rejected an Obama Administration plan to shield some of the nearly 49,000 undocumented immigrants in Fresno County from deportation, which the advocates says is very detrimental to undocumented families in the valley.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.
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