Much misinformation is going around about the proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Santa Maria. Here are the facts:
The area covered by this Enforcement and Removal Office (ERO) is all of San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County north of the 101 tunnel. Detainees at the Santa Barbara County Jail are processed in L.A.; none are sent to Santa Maria.
Every day, SLO County Jail, Men’s Colony, Lompoc Federal Prison, and local police holding cells send to ICE a list of all foreign-born detainees who have completed their sentences. They are interviewed by ICE agents, who review their records. Deportation depends on the level of crime by a person with a green card, as well as criminal history. Foreign-born persons who have committed a felony will be deported. Several misdemeanors can also lead to deportation.
Deportees are handcuffed and taken to the ERO. Once there, the clock starts with a 12-hour maximum holding. They can make a phone call, eat. There are no beds or showers. Then they are handcuffed, put into the ICE van, and taken to L.A. for deportation.
If the detainee is not to be deported, he or she is released. Federal prisons usually send them back to their former home area. They do not come to Santa Maria at all.
The proposed ERO will only handle foreign-born people who are to be deported. The facility will have a fence with three-strand barbed wire for security.
Undocumented people who do not commit felonies or repeated misdemeanors should not worry about the presence of ICE.