You can cut the tension in the room with a knife.
Two opposing groups are sitting next to each other at a Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting. The agenda for the day includes the county’s first Truth Act Forum, which under a California law, requires the sheriff’s department to provide information and statistics on the extent of its cooperation with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Janice Reed is a long-time resident of Beaumont.
“I’m a mom and a grandmother and I’m concerned about my grandchildren,” said Reed.
Reed was seated on the left side of the room. She says it’s all about public safety for her and she believes ICE agents are the answer to her fears.
“It will keep all communities safe, but most importantly, I believe the immigrant community, because that is where the illegal alien criminals will return to if they’re just let back into the community,” she said.
Two years ago, the sheriff’s department was able to hold an undocumented inmate for up to two days to allow ICE to detain them. Now, if ICE wants to interview an inmate, the department has to let the inmate know and they could either decline or request an attorney be present.
So far this year, the department has turned over 62 inmates to ICE. That’s up 100 percent from last year.
Immigrant rights activists like Dianey Murillo want the sheriff’s department to be more transparent and provide even more statistics.
“We all have the right to come and demand the truth,” says Murillo, a southern regional coordinator with California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.
Murillo and her family moved to Riverside when she was eight.
“This is the first county that hasn’t given those numbers and I feel like, what is setting them back? Why aren’t they tracking those numbers if other counties are already doing that and have been doing that?” said Murillo.
The county supervisors ended the forum after three hours of listening to dozens of people speak during public comment. Despite not seeing eye-to-eye, both groups have something in common. They say they care about family and believe in transparency.