The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency arrested fewer detainees from the Kern County detention system in 2018 than it did in 2017.
The Kern County Sheriff's Office reported during a public forum on Monday that ICE arrests in 2018 fell by 23 percent when compared to the year before.
The Sheriff's Office attributed the drop to the California Values Act, a 2017 law known as Senate Bill 54 that limits the resources local governments can use to investigate or arrest people for federal immigration agents.
"The number of arrests, shown on the right, fell significantly," said Chief Deputy Tyson Davis, referring to a graph provided by the department. "SB 54 went into effect in 2018 and this decrease was in line with our expectations."
In total, ICE made 374 arrests of individuals held in Kern County jails compared to 436 in 2017.
Aside from arrests, ICE agents requested to be notified of the release of 597 individuals housed in Kern County prisons, an action that indicates the agency's interest in a person housed by Kern County law enforcement.
The number was a slight decrease from 2017.
The new statistics were provided as part of a report that was revealed at a TRUTH Act forum held Monday evening at the Board Chambers of the Kern County Administrative Building.
The meeting was held in accordance to the state’s 2016 TRUTH Act, which requires any governing bodies that collaborate with ICE to hold an open community forum in which information on that collaboration is made public.
In December of last year, supervisors held the first TRUTH Act meeting, in which details of ICE’s arrests of individuals held Kern County detention facilities were made public.
On Monday, Dozens of people filled the Board Chambers, and nearly all of them heavily criticized the Sheriff Office's ICE collaboration.
The Sheriff’s Office tells immigration agents about the release of certain detainees when ICE submits a request to be notified.
During instances in which ICE agents plan to arrest a detainee of the county, the Sheriff’s Office allows the federal agency into non-public areas of the jail in order for the arrest to be made.
The procedure has been criticized by outside groups, but representatives for the Sheriff’s Office say it is safer for law enforcement agents, who can control the environment during the handoff.
During the meeting, nearly all of the public speakers expressed anger at the supervisors or law enforcement for various aspects of the immigration system in Kern County.
"We're mad, and there's a certain sense of callousness coming from the board," a man, who only identified himself as Francisco, said during the public comment portion of the meeting. "We're here to hold y'all accountable because you guys aren't doing your jobs."
The American Civil Liberties Union gave a presentation in response to the Sheriff's Office's report.
The nonprofit legal organization said the Sheriff's Office went too far in its ICE collaboration.
"The Sheriff's Office is involved in hundreds of immigration arrests every year," said ACLU attorney Jordan Wells. "It may be down a little bit from the year before, but if you're talking about a number greater than 365, which is what we're talking about today, you're talking about more than one immigration arrest on average per day."
The Sheriff's Office said it would meet with the ACLU in the future to go over its ICE policies.
Supervisors decided to hold two TRUTH Act meetings this year in order to let as many people as possible attend.
A second, identical, meeting was planned to be held before Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.