Deportations are not that uncommon in Escondido, but a recent case is triggering some controversy.
It involves a grandmother, a 28-year-old mother and a 9-year-old girl.
Last week the family was driving to a clinic, because the young girl had a high fever. But the girl’s mother, Minerva Santos, 28, ran a stop sign on Mission and Fig Street.
According to Lt. Mike Cea from the County’s Sheriff’s Department, Santos almost crashed into the car of a deputy sheriff who was passing by.
Santos didn’t have a driver’s license.
“When the immigration issue came up,” said Lt. Cea. “Deputy Wayland rightfully notified the Border Patrol who are the experts in this area.”
Critics say the issue was handled inappropriately because the 9-year-old was patted down.
“From our perspective it was an extreme inspection,” said Pedro Rios from the American Friends Service Committee. “The patting down of the 9 year old girl who was sick… the most she could have had was a pencil, a notebook.”
But the Sheriff’s department says it acted lawfully by following their standard procedure.
“I understand the issue with the 9-year-old girl,” says Lt. Cea. “But it's no different than if it was an adolescent or a juvenile. It's a standard practice for officer’s safety. It’s what we do when transferring detainees.”
Human Rights advocates argue that cases like these only alienate the Latino community from officials, making it more difficult for them to report crimes.
“With this incident that took place there is very little confidence the Latino community has with officials, including the sheriff's office,” said Rios.
The Sheriff’s Department says people living in Escondido illegally shouldn’t fear the authorities.
“Our deputy wasn't out looking for undocumented residents," said Cea. "It was the near collision that provoked all this. They should have no fear of contacting us [when reporting crimes].”
Santos has two other daughters in Escondido. For now, a friend is looking after them.
Despite some criticism, in the last few days the Sheriff’s department has received calls from residents showing their support for how the case was handled.