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SDPD Investigates Second Complaint Alleging Mistreatment Of Undocumented Drivers

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Some in the local immigrant community continue to have feelings of distrust against the San Diego Police Department.

In 2008, the San Diego Police Department faced criticism for its treatment of undocumented immigrants. The department made changes to its policy, but the debate may be reigniting.

On Sept. 24, an officer pulled over a 29-year old man. The man's family said he was driving with his music too loudly. However, instead of issuing a citation, the officer called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and now the driver is facing deportation.

San Diego's Executive Assistant Chief of Police David Ramirez said the department is investigating the complaint, and adds that there may have been other factors at play.

The policy regarding the handling of undocumented persons - drafted back in 2008 - states officers may call immigration authorities under certain circumstances. For example, officers may call ICE if the person has a criminal record or if they are suspected of smuggling or human trafficking.

Ramirez explained there are situations where officers are prohibited from getting immigration involved.

"As a general rule, when they're contacted as a witness or victims, or during a minor traffic stop, we do not let someone's immigration status affect the way we do our business," Ramirez said.

Earlier this year, a similar complaint alleging the mishandling of an undocumented driver was filed. An internal investigation found that the responding officer called immigration authorities against the department rules. Ramirez said the officer was disciplined.

Pedro Rios with American Friends Service Committee and other local human rights organizations held a community meeting Thursday evening in City Heights to discuss the relationship between immigrant communities and the police department.

"These cases feed into the perception of a stronger collaboration between federal immigration authorities and local police," Rios said.

At the federal level, the Obama Administration announced this summer, it would start focusing resources on finding and deporting serious criminals, and stop going after non-criminals who do not pose a threat to public safety or national security.

As a result, ICE officials conducted a nationwide sweep last week. About 3,000 people convicted of crimes who are in the U.S. illegally were arrested.

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