Monday, May 9, 2011

Bend Immigrant Rights Group Claims Profiling (KTVZ-OR)

Bend Immigrant Rights Group Claims Profiling
Sheriff Larry Blanton Fires Back: 'I Don't Deport Anybody'
By Mackenzie Wilson, KTVZ.COM
POSTED: 3:56 pm PDT May 9, 2011

BEND, Ore. -- "I don't deport anybody -- that's (federal) immigration (officials)," said Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton.

Sheriff Larry Blanton fired back at allegations that local law enforcement racially profile illegal immigrants, leading to deportation.

Immigrants' rights groups rallied Monday in Bend, giving local authorities petitions with hundreds of signatures, calling for compassion.

The heart of the debate: When should law enforcement report illegal immigrants to federa; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE?

"People are being deported for non-criminal offenses like broken taillights and things like that," said Greg Delgado, an immigrant family advocate.

The sheriff told NewsChannel 21 his records show otherwise.

"I don't think assault, DUII, false report to a police officer, delivery of controlled substance, methamphetamine, rape in the first degree, sodomy and sex abuse are minor offenses," Blanton said.

Last year, nearly 6,000 people were booked into the Deschutes County Jail. More than 100 of them were placed on ICE detainers, meaning they didn't have proper identification or proof they were who they said they were.

The sheriff's records showed that last year, 74 of those held for ICE faced felony charges, including 15 for methamphetamine delivery, seven for meth possession and four each for aggravated theft, marijuana manufacture and possession, first-degree attempted abuse and frequenting a place where drugs are kept or sold.

"If they've committed a criminal offense, then they should be reported to ICE," Delgado said. "The way they're doing it now is, as soon as they pull them over, they're running them through ICE."

Blanton said running someone's name through ICE is the same for anyone.

"Regardless of your ethnicity, color of skin, we ask where you're from," Blanton said. "If you say you're from Russia or, 'I'm from out of the country' -- it doesn't have to just be Hispanic -- we try to make sure of a couple of things; that you are who you say you are, and that you're here legally."

Supporters of Immigrant Family Advocates did a study of ICE detainees at the Deschutes County Jail from 2007 to 2010. Their research shows more than 600 people were held on ICE detainers over the three years.

They said that number jumps significantly when you add up families who's lives are also put on hold.

"You're breaking families apart and separating them," said Immigrant Family Advocate Gerardo Zuniga. "That's just inhumane."

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