Hundreds of immigrant rights activists and concerned community members came to the Board meeting this week to make their voices heard on Agenda Item 53-A, a two-part motion authored by Supervisors Solis and Ridley-Thomas to lessen, but not end, the presence of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) in our County jails. I requested to bifurcate the motion so I could support ending our current agreement with ICE but vote no on a new agreement.
The first section of the motion addressed the County’s participation in ICE’s 287 (g) program, which currently allows ICE agents (including County employees who have been deputized as ICE agents), to be permanently housed in the jail in order to check each inmate to determine whether that inmate is a potential candidate for deportation. If so, following an interview at which no attorney is present, the inmate is immediately transferred into ICE custody. Mixing the duties of local sheriffs with federal immigration duties has led to loss of trust by many in our communities and reluctance to report crimes.
Joining Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Solis, I voted “Yes” on a 3-2 vote directing County Council to notify the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE that the County is terminating our agreement to participate in that program.
I stood alone in opposing the second part of the motion which supported the Sheriff’s continued cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security in implementing President Obama’s new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) which discontinued the ICE presence in the jails but continued the Sheriff’s collaboration in handing off undocumented inmates who had served their time for certain crimes.
I was the lone “No” on a 4-1 vote to implement PEP in LA County, because I believe PEP continued to undermine the trust between the community and law enforcement. But, as I stated during my comments at the meeting, I believe all of the Supervisors, activists and government agencies involved with this are speaking from the heart for what they believe is best for our community and public safety. These are the issues that call on us to vote our conscience and I voted mine.
Also this week, among other business, the Board:
– Directed County Departments and Courts to report on the feasibility of developing safe housing and program options for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children to address the trauma, and the physical and mental health issues that make it difficult for these victims to succeed in traditional settings. We also instructed our advocates in Sacramento to pursue legislation that would enhance the County’s ability to safely house and protect our CSEC kids.
– Voted to direct the Interim CEO to work with relevant departments to assess the feasibility of establishing a County purchasing preference program for non-profit and for-profit businesses that employ men and women recently released from incarceration.
– Supported Assembly Bill 1335 (Atkins), which would establish a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by placing a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding home sales, to increase Californians’ access to affordable housing.
– Instructed each County Department to report on their baseline water usage for each facility, with an assessment of each Department’s progress toward an overall 25% Countywide water conservation goal.
– Encouraged County residents and employees to make a financial contribution to support the earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts in Nepal. The original motion called for recommending those donations be directed through the Salvation Army. I made a friendly amendment to add CARE, OXFAM, Save the Children, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Red Cross to the list of recommended relief charities. With last night’s second major earthquake, the people of Nepal need our help now more than ever — please give if you can.
– Gave approval for the Director of Mental Health to prepare and execute an amendment with A Community of Friends to extend the Transitional Housing Program agreement, allowing high-risk young adults to continue to reside in the program while receiving appropriate mental health services and support to assist with permanent housing plans.
– Approved funding to support the partnership between the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Women’s Veterans Advisory Committee, County departments, and more than 50 nonprofit and veterans service organizations to continue the success of the Women’s Veterans Program at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, helping reintegrate women veterans into the civilian community.
– Appointed Charles Robbins to the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, and Theresa Zhen to the Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections.
– Loaned five vehicles to be used as a ceremonial escort for the Flame of Hope during the Unified Relay Across America from three starting points on the east coast to Los Angeles, where the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held.
– Acting as the Governing Body of the County Flood Control District, adopted a resolution authorizing the District to apply for grant funds up to $40,039,355 with the California Department of Water Resources for Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Act of 2006 implementation.
– Adjourned in memory of:
William Bast, resident of the Third District in the Hollywood Hills and prolific author and scriptwriter for TV and film, who recently passed away at the age of 84.
Chris Burden, resident of Topanga and renowned conceptual artist and sculptor, who recently passed away at the age of 69.
Tom Delmore, longtime resident of the Santa Monica Mountains community of Malibou Lake, who recently passed away at age of 71.
Glenn Raymond Ossiander, longtime resident, and community and cultural leader in the Pacific Palisades, who recently passed away at the age of 73.