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Anti-ICE Protesters Rally To Demand Sheriff McDonnell Support 'Sanctuary State' Bill

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Dozens of protestors rallied outside the East Los Angeles Sheriff's Department station on Thursday evening to demand that Sheriff Jim McDonnell support SB-54, the so-called "sanctuary state" bill, and end collaboration with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles. The protest appeared to block exit and entry from the sheriff's station for several hours, with six protestors engaged in a sit-in inside the sheriff's office. The protest was organized by the Sanctuary City Working Group of the Democratic Socialists of America's Los Angeles chapter and the coalition Ice Out of L.A. Sheriff's deputies in riot gear barricaded the building while protestors rallied outside. No arrests were made, according to the station.

SB-54 was introduced to the California Senate by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León last December, and was approved by the Senate in April. It outlines measures to restrict cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies. The bill is now making its way through the state Assembly. When Sheriff McDonnell first expressed opposition to the bill back in March, a large group of protestors showed up at the Hall of Justice downtown. Many local leaders have expressed support for the bill, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. It should be noted the Sheriff's Department runs the county's jails, and one reason Sheriff McDonnell opposes the bill is it would prevent federal immigration officers from making arrests directly out of county correctional facilities. The Sheriff's Department currently can share the names and release dates of inmates with federal immigration officers.

Gloria Gallardo of the DSA-LA explained how the group's demands stem from California and Los Angeles' lack of specific policies establishing "sanctuary" status for state and local immigrants. The protest also targeted McDonnell specifically, because of his vocal opposition to SB-54. Most of L.A. is diverse, she pointed out, so the sheriff "better step it up."

The protestors echoed a similar message in their chants, joining together to tell the Sheriff's Department "You work for us." Speakers from the various coalitions, which included the group Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), appealed to the humanity of the sheriffs during the protest by referencing the people raided by ICE as "brothers and sisters" and reinforcing the idea that the officers are a part of the same community as the people who would benefit most from sanctuary state policies. The protestors spoke on their commitment to overshadow the anti-sanctuary city rhetoric present in communities like Cudahy, a small, predominately Latino town in southeast L.A. with self-designated "sanctuary city" status that has become a target for anti-sanctuary groups.

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