Since 2018, the TRUTH (Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds) Act required the local governing body of any county in which a law enforcement agency has provided ICE with access to an individual during the prior year to hold at least one community forum. This would allow public review of how local LEA agencies have engaged in immigration enforcement in the past year.

The TRUTH Act is one of three state laws passed between 2014 and 2017 to ensure local law enforcement agencies don’t act as immigration deportation agents. Most recently, the California Values Act, which went into effect in January 2018, prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using their scarce resources to enforce immigration laws. In a highly unusual move that sent an unwelcome message to immigrant community members, the Kern County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution opposing the Values Act in May 2017.

It was no surprise that Sheriff Donny Youngblood did not attend the first TRUTH Act forum, held this past December. Instead, a chief deputy presented a bare-bone slide deck revealing that ICE made 622 requests for notification of release and 486 of those individuals were arrested by ICE. These numbers raised concerns for community advocates. It was not clear from the presentation whether KCSO policies and procedures complied with the law. The chief deputy did not explain under which circumstances were these arrests made. Many residents were frustrated with the lack of information provided by the Sheriff’s Office. They were even more frustrated with the Board of Supervisors for sitting back passively rather than seeking clarification from the KCSO.

Local advocates since have engaged in conversations with KCSO to discuss and amend its policies and practices in accordance with the law. These laws are meant to disentangle collaboration between law enforcement agencies and ICE and protect our immigrant communities from draconian federal immigration enforcement.

At this year’s TRUTH Act forums, which will be held at 6 p.m. May 13 and 9 a.m. May 14, the public will also hear from the KCSO on how it is implementing the California Values Act. We call on the board to abandon its 2017 position and join the community in seeking to ensure that no local resources are being used to facilitate deportation. It is time the board step up and protect its immigrant constituents and reject anti-immigrant and unAmerican federal policies that seek to tear our communities apart.

Rosa Lopez is the policy advocate and organizer with ACLU of Southern California — Bakersfield Office.