San Diego residents may be interested in a story drawing fire from both sides of the political aisle when federal officials recently declined to provide information about and names of numerous people who had been arrested or deported. Citing privacy concerns, officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement refused to give out the information and stated that due to privacy and other law enforcement reasons, the information requested is not deemed to be public information. The North County Times requested the names and information of people detained for alleged immigration violations via the Freedom of Information Act.
Critics of the program believe the two-year partnership that exists between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Escondido Police Department fosters distrust between law enforcement and the community’s immigrant population. The program, entitled Operation Joint Effort, partners federal officials and local law enforcement together in an effort to crack down on illegal immigrants involved in crime. Proponents of the partnership believe that the effort has gone a long way toward ridding the city of criminal immigrants or those who had deportation orders.
A spokesman for the San Diego ACLU stated the identification of people involved should be released under the FOIA and that local law enforcement should be keeping their own records in relation to the program. Some believe the program wrongly targets illegal immigrants who are not criminals. Officials have stated that is not the case, but they do get in touch with immigration agents when someone they suspect is in the country illegally is arrested.
Unfortunately, some immigrants in our state have wrongly become targets of operations seeking to deport those who have committed serious crimes. It’s important for these people to know that legal help is available.
Source: nctimes.com, “EXCLUSIVE: Names of illegal immigrants withheld, citing privacy rights : Escondido,” Edward Sifuentes, July 14, 2012