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Immigrants' Rights Groups Sue L.A. Sheriff Baca, Say He's Keeping Secrets

Baca addresses the media in Feb. 2010 (Photo by NewsSpy via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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A combo platter of community groups have announced they're filing suit against Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, on grounds he being a shady secret-keeper by not fully disclosing public information about dealings with immigrations enforcement agents. The groups, the National Day Laborer Organization (NDLON), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), say they have been trying to obtain the info through the California Public Records Act, but have not been successful. According to a release from CHIRLA: Community members served Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca with a summons and petition during a demonstration outside of his office protesting the criminalization of immigrants in Los Angeles. The petition names Baca as the defendant in a lawsuit, which charges that the Sheriff violated the California Public Records Act by refusing to disclose information about his dealings with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency.Recently, Baca came under fire for remarks made about undocumented immigrants. In an interview with KCRW, Baca said "illegal immigrants basically are not subject to the kinds of civil rights protections Americans are in his defense of a federal program that checks the immigration status of arrestees,"explains the AP via CBS2.

At issue has been Baca's work in the Secure Communities program, which Baca defended days after his controversial KCRW interview in an L.A. Times Op-ed. Baca said that Secure Communities works, and offered up several example cases. He added that the LASD also participates with ICE in a program called 287g, and that "[s]ince 2006, that program has identified more than 20,000 criminal illegal immigrants here." However, asserted Baca: "In both programs, it is not the Sheriff's Department that instigates deportation proceedings: That is the role of the federal government. We provide information; ICE decides whether to act on it."

Secure Communities has raised objections from several camps, including those who believe the program encourages racial profiling.

The suit aims to unmask the LASD and Baca:

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NDLON’s Staff Attorney Jessica Karp says: "ICE has used secrecy and deception to create monsters out of Sheriff's Departments throughout the country. This is LA, not Phoenix. We demand transparency from our sheriff, and we have zero tolerance for civil rights violations."