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Activists Protest Juvenile Immigration Referrals by O.C. Probation Officers

The protest comes after a study found Orange County refers more children to immigration officials than any other county in the state.

By City News Service

Citing a new UC Irvine Law School student report that claims that Orange County's probation officers refer more children to immigration authorities than any other county in the state, activists demanded answers today from county officials.

"Last month, California took a giant step forward when Gov. (Jerry) Brown signed the TRUST Act, a state law which limits who may be detained for ICE. But Orange County officials insist on continuing to entangle themselves in federal immigration enforcement," said Tim Martin, one of the university's law students who co-authored a report, "Second Chances for All: Why Orange County Probation Should Stop Choosing Deportation Over Rehabilitation for Immigrant Youth."

Ed Harrison, a spokesman for the county's probation department, noted the concerns of the activists.

"They have four concerns, and those concerns, they seem to me, to be about an interpretation of statute and case law," Harrison said. "And while I'm a law enforcement officer, I'm not an attorney, so we'll be consulting with our counsel to get legal advice on the legal interpretation of those statutes."

James Buatti, another co-author of the report, acknowledged that the county's probation department "enacted changes to its policies last November, apparently limiting ICE referrals to children who pose a 'public safety threat' or instances where deportation would be in the 'best interests' of a child, our report shows that the department continues to make a steady stream of referrals."

Another author of the report, Victoria Anderson, said that referring the juveniles to Immigration and Customs Enforcement "undermines the rehabilitative mission of the juvenile justice system, with no corresponding benefit to public safety."

Anderson added that the practice adds more work for probation officers "they were not hired or trained to do, at significant cost to the county."


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