The Madera County Board of Supervisors denies the claims in a American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that allege the board violated California open government laws when it held a closed meeting on March 7 to discuss having the county’s jail chief work with federal immigration authorities.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims the Madera County Chief of Corrections, Manuel Perez, was ordered to begin informing the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency about any undocumented immigrant charged with serious felonies who are being held in or released from the county jail, which is not a common practice for many other county jails in the state. However, Madera County Assistant Chief of Corrections Michael Gonzalez confirmed the jail notifies federal immigration authorities when it is holding and releasing a “person of interest.”
On Wednesday, the board released a statement. “The case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union has no merit,” the board said. The board contends that it did not violate the Brown Act and did not take action on county policy regarding working with ICE.
The board’s statement calls the ACLU’s statements “inaccurate, misguided and self-serving,” and says the board remains committed to public safety and complying with the Brown Act. It also provides a link to the agenda of the March 7 meeting and a recorded webcast of the meeting.
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The board said the closed meeting was “appropriate” and that there would be no further comment at this time.