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Old 10-29-2009, 09:58 AM
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ilbegone ilbegone is offline
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Default Two community groups allege racial profiling

Two community groups allege racial profiling by law enforcement officers near Fontana schools

Quote:

Josh Dulaney and Stephen Wall
10/28/2009


FONTANA - Members of two community organizing groups protested Wednesday against alleged acts of racial profiling by law enforcement officers near public schools.

At Wednesday's City Council meeting, members of ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center said Fontana police officers are targeting illegal immigrants by setting up driver's license checkpoints near public schools during school hours.

"It is unjust that members of our community are looked upon with scorn, derision, and suspicion," said Bobbi Jo Chavarria, a 38-year-old resident who is leading an effort to start an ACORN chapter here.

The issue of racial profiling came up at a school board meeting last week after complaints were raised that a Latino family was allegedly stopped by four unmarked federal vehicles this month.

Residents say they have seen the police setting up survey checkpoints near school zones.

Police Department officials Wednesday denied the allegations, saying checkpoints set up near schools are for DUI checks only and conducted at night.

The Police Department has a policy against racial profiling, Chief Rodney Jones said.

"If anybody has a complaint, bring it forward and we'll respond to it," Jones said.

Robert Ratcliffe, chief of police for the Fontana Unified School District, said there were also hints at the board meeting that district
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police took part in the action.

"There was inference that local law enforcement was involved with that and I issued a memo to the interim superintendent (of schools) that we had no involvement in that," Ratcliffe said.

ACORN also protested the so-called 287g Program, which allows designated law enforcement officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions.

The program locally is administered by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"Our local police department is actually working as a de facto immigration officer," said Emilio Amaya, executive director of San Bernardino Community Service Center.

In 2008, the department identified 2,359 inmates as possible illegal immigrants under the program, said Lt. Rick Ells.

The department is in the process of extending the program that started in 2006. A new three-year agreement between the county and the federal government is expected to come before the Board of Supervisors for a final vote Nov. 3.

Under the program, people who are booked into county jails are asked to provide their country of birth on their booking applications.

If they were not born in the United States, their applications are flagged by a sheriff's custody specialist trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

If after an interview the sheriff's employee determines the person may be in the country illegally, the inmate is referred to federal immigration authorities for additional questioning and possible deportation.

"Nobody is brought to our jails merely because of immigration status," Ells said.

Ells said the program is effective at getting potentially dangerous criminals off the streets.

"If we don't do this and somebody gets picked up for a DUI and doesn't get deported and then goes out and commits another DUI and kills an innocent person, we would be under tremendous fire," Ells said.

"Anytime you remove the opportunity for the crime or the criminal, you're going to improve the quality of life."

Those protesting ACORN's stance on the program attended the meeting and voiced support for the Sheriff's Department.

"We are in complete support of the 287g program," said Robin Hvidston, a rally coordinator for We the People. "The (Sheriff's Department) has identified illegal aliens committing crimes on our soil. This helps us repatriate them to their country."
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