Groups protest San Bernardino County sheriff, saying department works too closely with ICE

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Protests formed in San Bernardino as people claimed the county sheriff's department is doing too much to help ICE agents.

They protested outside of the department, taking aim at Sheriff John McMahon's stance on undocumented immigrants within county jails.

The protesters demanded the department not involve itself with immigration agencies. Those detained and booked into the county jail have their fingerprints electronically sent to federal authorities, including ICE. The department is then notified if the person is on an immigration hold.

McMahon has been critical of the state's sanctuary bill as well as sheriffs in other counties who are willing to end local law enforcement agencies involvement with ICE.

He said it's a matter of public safety.

"To be quite honest, those that are wanted by ICE that are detained in our facilities are dangerous criminals. If we allow that inmate to walk out of our jail and ICE isn't there to pick them up, that inmate returns to the community," McMahon said.

Protester Luis Salazar, who is also part of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, said he is critical of McMahon's stance and that it erodes public trust in law enforcement.

Salazar brought up the case of Guadalupe Placensia, a 59-year-old resident who is a U.S. citizen that was detained by deputies and then turned over to ICE. She and her family are suing ICE and the county, seeking $200,000 in damages.

"We believe that (McMahon's) actions against SB54 and his willingness to communicate with and work with immigration is affecting our community in a big way, not only the undocumented community, but also U.S. citizens here in the region," he said.

The protesters remained until 6 p.m. but McMahon was not in the building to see the demonstrations. He was doing an event in the high desert.
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