July 15, 2014. The Sun-Sentinel.
Fender benders and minor traffic stops aren’t supposed to send someone to jail. But that’s the risk faced by immigrants living in Palm Beach County without U.S. citizenship, local religious activists say.
A coalition of nearly 30 religious congregations maintains that too often identification problems and citizenship questions result in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office taking someone to jail who otherwise just would have faced a ticket or a requirement to appear in court.
People Engaged in Active Community Efforts, or PEACE, maintains that jailing immigrants after minor traffic offenses because of citizenship questions is unfair, adds costs for taxpayers and breeds fear among immigrant communities, making people in those communities less likely to cooperate with law enforcement.
PEACE is calling for Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to make changes so that fewer interactions between immigrants and sheriff’s deputies lead to deportations that separate families.
“It is part of an effort to break down that barrier of fear of the sheriff,” said Jill Hanson of PEACE.