A Vote for Camarena

Kudos to the Independent for its lack of endorsement for either candidate for Sheriff. While I do not know much about Lt. Juan Camarena, I have had direct interaction with Sheriff Bill Brown’s policies toward the Latino community. I was a board member of PUEBLO from 2009-2012, a nonprofit that merged with CAUSE in 2013.

Our main role was to defend immigrants’ rights by stopping car impounds for unlicensed drivers and the arrest of drivers. It wasn’t until 2013 that AB460 granted a driver’s license to immigrants who had proof of local residency regardless of immigration status. We held community meetings to instruct Latinos of their rights and how to handle unlawful stops.

Under Sheriff Brown’s leadership 2009-2012, DUI checkpoints were set up on Friday and Saturday nights in Latino areas looking for those without a driver’s license — which most immigrants could not access — arresting them for driving without a license, incarcerating them, impounding their vehicle, and waiting for them to be picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE’s mission is to protect the U.S. from cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety, such as narcotics transport, illicit currency and assets, human trafficking, and aggravated felons. Someone coming home after work does not fit that bill. Families were separated without due cause. Longtime residents made plans for their children in case they disappeared during these “raids.” I lost two friends to deportation, both of whom had lived here for over 20 years, were fully employed, and contributed to the community in many ways.

Forty-six percent of Santa Barbara County residents are Latino; “white non-Hispanics” are 43.6 percent. I do not see this balance in Brown’s flashy, well-financed endorsements. His support from the Latino community reflects those who have achieved the American dream but little from those Latinos who contribute in so many ways to the quality of life we all enjoy. I will be voting for Lt. Camarena.


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