SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Emotions were charged Tuesday night as hundreds came out for an immigration forum, the first of it’s kind in the country.
“I commend the sheriff and the head of ICE, it was a brave thing to do,” said resident Eric Wiesenthel.
Tuesday night’s planned open forum was hosted by Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones who had invited the acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan to speak to concerned citizens.
“I think folks that came here with an open mind, I think it did make a difference, hopefully what it did was to clear up some conflicting information,” said Jones.
Jones says the forum was an opportunity for an open dialogue, and a chance to dispel rumors surrounding his department’s role when it comes to immigration enforcement.
“One very important point I want to get clear, we do not do immigration enforcement in the community, we do not do check points, we don’t ask for immigration status,” said Jones
He said the only cooperative relationship they have with ICE is inside their jail facility, which got a strong negative reaction from the crowd.
The public came armed with posters, signs and with questions.
“How much access does ICE have to our community members? Does the Sheriff support ICE raids,” said Jaclyn Moreno.
“Given your support for this President, how can we trust? That’s what’s lost,” asked one community member.
Many of the answers got drowned out by the loud outbursts from the crowd. There was a lot of booing and yelling. Several people were asked to leave and were escorted out. Two people were cited and later released.
“It was almost like a clown show, all the chanting and disrespect,” said Pamela Nicolay.
Homan and Jones listened to people speak and share personal stories of fear. Faith leaders expressed their concerns, along with CA Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon and Mayor Darrell Steinberg who asked this:
“Will you assure us that your sheriffs will not become deputized ICE agents in Sacramento?”
Jones replied “We don’t do that, and I can assure you as long as I’m sheriff that won’t happen.”
Homan made it known that he’s a law enforcement officer with a job to do.
“I have a duty to enforce the law, if there’s someone whose a public safety threat, in the country illegally, plus they committed a crime, we’re gonna arrest that person,” said Homan.
The forum wrapped right at 7 p.m., after about an hour of a heated answer and question session from the public.