The Collier County Sheriff's Office is hearing calls from local activists to end a federal program that they believe unfairly targets illegal immigrants, claiming the initiative gives deputies a license to discriminate.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office has partnered with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, on the 287(g) program since 2007. It allows deputies to detain suspected illegal immigrants for 48 hours, while ICE determines if they should be deported.
"They can still do their jobs without 287(g)," said Angela Cisneros, co-founder of the group Collier For Dreamers. "There's no need to harass the immigrant community."
Cisneros and about a dozen others rallied on U.S. 41 in downtown Naples Monday at noon, just before a meeting with members of the sheriff's office and ICE officials to let them know just how they feel about the controversial program.
"The sheriff says it keeps us safe," Cisneros said during public comment at the meeting. "But I ask, who does it keep safe? Who does it keep safe when a taxpaying father is deported? Who does it keep safe when a mother is separated from her children?"
Domestic violence survivor Bryan Oliva-Infante said that mistrust of the police is common in the immigrant communities of Collier County.
"My family always told me to never call the cops," Oliva-Infante said. "My family told me that the only thing worse than the beatings was the police, the deportation."
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said that 287(g) has withstood legal challenges, and has detained over 6,200 people in Collier County since his agency partnered with ICE in 2007.
"It's a jail-based program that simply determines lawful presence," Rambosk said during the meeting. "It's not a racially-biased program."
But after hearing citizens' concerns, Rambosk said he would take a hard look at the program going forward.
"You've raised the question," he told dozens gathered at the meeting. "I'm going to review with our staff everything from cost to negative impact."