The following is a prepared testimony delivered to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors by ACLU-SDIC Immigrant Rights and Binational Affairs Advocate Esmeralda Flores.
Good morning, my name is Esmeralda Flores. I’m here on behalf of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
San Diegans deserve to feel safe, welcomed and included in their communities.
Operation Stonegarden is a program that provides funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies for collaborating with federal law enforcement agencies at the border.
This collaboration puts Operation Stonegarden at odds with our values of justice, inclusion and welcoming immigrants. It has created fear and distrust of law enforcement in Latino and immigrant communities as these communities have been disproportionately targeted and overpoliced as part of Operation Stonegarden.
In short, Operation Stonegarden has no place in our county, where immigrants make up 21.5 percent of our diverse population.
In the past, ACLU affiliates in California have received reports of local law enforcement agencies using Operation Stonegarden as a pretext to stop and detain people until U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents arrive to make the arrests.
In other regions, law enforcement agencies have faced lawsuits for using Operation Stonegarden funds to “illegally interrogate low-income Latinx people about their immigration status and to search homes for undocumented immigrants.”
San Diego County should follow the example of jurisdictions like Indio, California, and Pima, Arizona, which cut ties with Operation Stonegarden in recent years. These jurisdictions raised concerns about racial profiling, lack of oversight and harm to “relations with the Latinx community.”
There are also serious questions about whether participating in Operation Stonegarden violates SB54, the California Values Act, a state law designed to protect communities from collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies.
We are calling on you, our Board of Supervisors, to reduce the presence of law enforcement in overpoliced communities. Ending the county’s participation in Operation Stonegarden is an immediate and important step you, our elected leaders, can take to begin addressing biased policing.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
This post was originally published on ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.