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Sanchez staunchly supports Harald Martin's INS jail program

by Nick Schou Friday, May. 10, 2002 at 7:44 PM

OC Weekly article exposes Congresswoman Sanchez's efforts to link INS agents to local police department


From the OC WEEKLY

May 10 - 16, 2002

Upon Further Review . . .

Sanchez staunchly supports Harald Martin's INS jail

by Nick Schou

On May Day, 100 masked protesters, most of them high
school and college students, staged a protest in front
of Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez's district
headquarters in Garden Grove. Their complaint: Sanchez
played a critical role in expanding the presence of
the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Anaheim
and even supported placing an INS agent inside the
city's jail.

After talking to Sanchezs press people, who said she
hadn't "taken a real solid position" on that issue and
"wants to mediate rather than take sides," we called
the protesters "ill-informed" ("There's a Specter
Haunting Garden Grove," May 3). It turns out we were
ill-informed. Sanchez confirmed in an interview with
the Weekly after the story appeared that she has
always been a strong supporter of the INS jail

But it's something Sanchez and her staff apparently
prefer to keep quiet, possibly because the program's
biggest proponent over the years has been none other
than Anaheim patrolman and anti-immigration activist
Harald Martin, who has also favored sending INS
officers into the city's schools to deport anyone
lacking proper papers.

Sanchez has tried hard in recent years to portray
herself as a friend of immigrants -- even undocumented
residents -- in her district. She likes to point out
that Congressman Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach)
authored the bill that sought to take the Anaheim jail
program nationwide. ("Why don't those people protest
Chris Coxs office?" she said of the May Day rally.)
Yet Sanchez voted in favor of that bill. And, more
important, she played a critical role in trying to get
permanent federal funding for the Anaheim INS jail

"If you are a criminal, I think we have a right as a
country to ask if you are even supposed to be here,"
Sanchez said. "Do I agree with [the INS jail] policy?
Yeah, I agree with that. Do I want to stop every
person and see if they ought to be here? No. Do I
support that horrible officer Harald Martin? No. Do I
like racial profiling? No way. I fight against it all
the time.

"This is totally different than racial profiling," she
continued. "I work every single day and have the only
open doors in this county for people who say, 'I think
I am about to be deported -- what can you do?'"

Sanchez claimed her staff is currently handling 800
open cases for her constituents, 70 percent of which
are immigration-related. "I am the only
[congressperson] that works with unions and supports
collective bargaining or who tells employees to pay
good wages and benefits," she said. "I work on all
these issues because they are very good for all
Americans. And still I am the only one who gets

Perhaps that's because she seems to try to have it
both ways. For instance, while expressing staunch
support for the INS jail program, she also questioned
whether it's effective.

"Fifty percent of the time, there is an INS agent who
runs a background check to see if you have legal
documents to be in the United States," she said of the
jail program. "Ten percent of that 50 percent of the
time, we found the people who have been booked for a
crime are here illegally. About half the time, this
INS agent will be here because it's not fully funded."

In other words, the program barely works, so
protesters have nothing to be steamed about. But a
close check shows that Sanchez has been trying since
1997 to get full funding, arguing that any less places
an undue burden on local law enforcement. That year,
she wrote a letter to Congressman Melvin Watt (D-North
Carolina), the then-ranking member of the Immigration
and Claims Subcommittee, requesting that the program
receive permanent federal funding.

"My position is that criminal illegal aliens should be
permanently deported," she wrote. "Not only do I
support the permanent deportation of criminal aliens,
I want them caught as soon as possible." The same
year, Sanchez voted for an amendment by Representative
James Traficant Jr. (then an Ohio Democrat, now a
convicted felon) allowing for the deployment of 10,000
troops along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out
"terrorists, drug traffickers and illegal aliens."

Nativo Lopez, national co-director of Hermandad
Mexicana Nacional, sent Sanchez a letter on April 14,
2001, asking her to reconsider her support for having
an INS agent inside the Anaheim jail. "The policy of
95 percent of all other police departments in Orange
County and other counties in California side with us
on this issue," he wrote. "We are now calling upon you
to take a position on this matter and work to assure
no further federal funding for this program."

Sanchez never responded, so three months later, Lopez
wrote another letter, which, like the previous one,
was co-signed by many community leaders, including Los
Amigos of Orange County chairman Amin David, Bishop
Jaime Soto -- and even Sanchezs younger sister Linda
Sanchez, executive secretary treasurer of the Orange
County Central Labor Council. "I am surprised that you
have not found the time to respond to my written and
telephone communication," Lopez wrote. "Congresswoman
Sanchez, this is an issue that will not disappear, nor
should it be ignored. We expect you to be more
responsive to persons and organizations that have
supported you unconditionally in your three election

Sanchez wrote back within days: "After carefully
reviewing information on this matter, I feel obligated
to continue my support for the 'Criminal Alien
Identification Program' in order to ensure the public
safety and support our long-term crime-fighting

Green Party activist Duane Roberts, who lives in
Sanchez's district, says that he and other
progressives were willing to give Sanchez some initial
slack because after taking office, Sanchez immediately
came under attack from House Republicans.

"Being a freshman congresswoman, she was being
encouraged to vote a certain way by her colleagues to
appease the more reactionary elements within her
constituency," Roberts said. "She has changed her
position on a number of issues and is more progressive
than she was back in 1997. The joke then among
progressives was that we had gotten rid of B-1 Bob
[Dornan] and replaced him with B-2 Loretta."
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