Some law enforcement agencies in California are directly violating the states immigrant sanctuary law, and others are skirting the law by following out-of-date policies or exploiting loopholes, according to a new report released Wednesday.
Of 169 local law enforcement agencies reviewed, 68 were not complying with California SB-54, the state law that limits cooperation between police agencies and federal immigration agents, according to a report released Wednesday, March 27, by the San Francisco-based Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and the University of Oxford Centre for Criminology in England.
A few of the reports findings: San Diego Sheriffs Department deputies are still asking detainees about their immigration status. At least one agency, Stanislaus Sheriffs Department, allows its deputies to hold detainees for immigration agents. And some, such as the San Jose Police Department, are still providing space for federal agents in their local facilities. All of those actions violate SB 54.
Meanwhile, the report states that Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside Sheriffs Departments are “exploiting an exception” in the states sanctuary law by posting on their websites information regarding the release dates of immigrant inmates, giving agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency a heads up to nab people who are potentially deportable.
The law, SB-54, also known as the California Values Act, took effect Jan. 1, 2018. It was billed by legislators as Californias response to President Donald Trump stance on immigration, which many viewed as not only against illegal immigration but against immigrants.
The states sanctuary law has drawn criticism and legal challenges from the Trump administration. It also continues to elicit a strong reaction within California, with some 60 California cities and counties voicing opposition to SB 54 through resolutions or other actions in the past year. One city, Huntington Beach, sued the state and won, (an appeal is pending.)
Limiting cooperation between federal immigration agents and local police led to a 31 percent year-to-year decrease in arrests by ICE, (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,) at California jails during the first five months of the law, according to the report. By comparison, during the same period, Texas, which has a state law that bans sanctuary actions, saw a 39 percentincrease in ICE arrests for the same period.
“SB-54 is having an impact in reducing the number of people turned over to ICE, but the decrease could be higher if all law enforcement complied in good faith,” said Angela Chan, senior staff attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the reports project supervisor.
“There are a lot of sheriffs and police departments throughout the state bending over backwards to assist ICE with deportations and trying to undermine SB-54,” Chan said.
The bill faced opposition from both the California State Sheriffs Association and the California Police Chiefs Association. The police chiefs group eventually stayed neutral on the matter after various changes were made.
One of those changes lets California police work with federal immigration agents if the inmate in question is in jail on one of more than 800 crimes. But others inmates – people detained on most misdemeanors, for example – cannot be held by local police for ICE detainment following the end of their sentence, and local law enforcement is not allowed to notify ICE about their pending release.
Agencies can post release date information if that data already was available to the general public prior to passage of SB-54, Chan said. Out of 58 Sheriffs Departments in California, 24 are now posting all inmate release information in advance of their release, a move the reports authors say is exploiting a loophole and thwarting the spirit of the law.
Other criticism of agencies is that theyre working sometimes too closely with federal immigration agents; for example, the law allows local police to join task forces as long as as theyre not primarily focused on immigration enforcement.
Officials with Sheriffs Departments in Southern California cited in the report offered guarded responses to a report that they had not seen.
“The ability to publicly post inmate release dates is within the confines of SB-54,” Orange County Sheriffs spokeswoman Carrie Braun said in an e-mail. “Sheriff (Don) Barnes has said repeatedly that our deputies do not enforce street-level immigration, that is the mandate for the federal government.
Olivia Bozek, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino Sheriffs department, said her countys deputies participate in federal task forces, “but we do not participate in immigration enforcement, and our staff will not participate in any immigration efforts undertaken by our task force partners.” Regarding release information of its inmates, Bozek said the information is posted on the departments website and is “accessible to anyone.”
The Riverside County Sheriffs Department “adheres to department policy and applicable California laws as it relates to Senate Bill 54, and will continue to do so,” a spokesman said in an e-mail. The department did not reply to questions asking what qualifies as an emergency when its deputies are assisting immigration authorities. According to the report, Riverside has no clear definition, giving deputies considerable leeway for helping ICE agents, potentially in violation of the state law.
None of the agencies commented on the reports recommendations, which were emailed to them. The recommendations include clarifying SB 54 to make it illegal for police agencies to post inmates release information, and prohibRead More – Source