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San Diego Sheriff Backs Off Policy That Immigrant Advocates Say Helped ICE

San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Kearny Mesa on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.
Nicholas McVicker
San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Kearny Mesa on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department on Thursday announced it has backed off a policy of publicly posting the release dates of people in its custody.

Immigrant advocates say the information was being used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help it arrest immigrants for possible deportation.

San Diego Sheriff Backs Off Policy That Immigrant Advocates Say Helped ICE
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

The sheriff began posting the release dates shortly after a 2017 law went into effect, which aimed to curb local law enforcement’s relationship with ICE. At the time, the department said it made that decision to “provide an up-to-date indicator of an individual's release status to the public.”

But in a letter Thursday sent to the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore wrote that after "discussions with my staff, law enforcement partners, and advocacy groups, I have reached the conclusion the concerns related to this report significantly outweigh the value of it."

The change by the sheriff’s department came after two years of protests by immigrant advocates. Last month, during a public forum in front of county supervisors, Gore pledged to work with community groups to review the practice. His letter to advocates was sent the day before a meeting was to be held between advocates and Gore about the policy.

RELATED: Ahead of Forum, Immigrant Advocates Say San Diego Sheriff Is Breaking The Law

“For now this is a big win for our communities, because we’re making things harder for them,” said Lilian Serrano, the chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. ”Sometimes we might not be able to fully stop their actions, but we can definitely make things harder for them, and in that way mitigates the impact in our communities and reduces the amount of people affected by it.”

Last year, a Mexican man was arrested by ICE after only being held in San Diego Sheriff’s custody for two days. Even though charges were dropped against him, ICE agents were waiting for him as he exited the county jail and his lawyer, Geneviéve Jones-Wright, told KPBS that she believes it was because of the “Inmates Pending Release Report” on the Sheriff Department’s website. Jones-Wright has filed a claim against the county in anticipation of a possible lawsuit on behalf of her client.