Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell on Monday pledged to work with local, state and federal leaders to develop a new policy to notify the federal government about county jail inmates who could be subjected to deportation — if the current policy is eliminated by the county.
"The sheriff's department is responsible for helping people in their time of need and investigating crimes that have occurred, regardless of the individual's immigration status,'' McDonnell said in a statement.
"In achieving those objectives, our department must work closely and cooperatively with federal authorities to identify and assist with the lawful investigation and prosecution of undocumented persons who pose a danger to our community,'' McDonnell said.
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McDonnell issued his statement on the eve of the expected vote by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday on a motion to terminate a controversial program that places federal immigration agents inside county jails so they can determine whether inmates may be subject to deportation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The motion is sponsored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas, and will probably have the support of a third supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, who has said in the past that she supports ending the program, The Times reported.
The other two supervisors, Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich, say they will oppose the motion.
"We must also bear in mind at all times the importance of preserving community relationships as well as the due process rights of those in our custody," McDonnell said.
The county entered into the agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement a decade ago.
Along with placing immigration agents inside Twin Towers jail, the program trains certain jail employees to act as immigration agents to investigate whether inmates convicted of certain crimes are in the country illegally.
In his statement, McDonnell said he welcomed the opportunity to "develop policies and procedures that appropriately balance both promoting public safety and fortifying trust within the multiethnic communities that make up Los Angeles County.''