Ever since California’s Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have all but entirely ended all cooperation between the State of California and ICE on detainers less than ninety days ago, liberals, both in Sacramento and in specific localities, have been plotting to institute the legislation in whole or at least in parts.
ICE detainers are holds, up to two business days, that ICE places on municipal prisoners it wants held for additional time because ICE believes they are eligible for deportation. In early October, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed what was then referred to as the TRUST Act (Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools).
This bill would have ended all cooperation between any police official anywhere in California on nearly all detainers in the entire state of California. The Governor vetoed it at the end of September. Ever since, the Attorney General of the state of California has issued a new directive more narrowly defining state agencies that are obligated to cooperate with ICE detainers. The California legislature has made plans to introduce another version of the TRUST Act in the upcoming session, and the LA County Sheriff’s Office and the Police Chief of the City of Los Angeles have both issued public directives limiting their jurisdictions’ cooperation with ICE detainers.
Kamala Harris is the Democratic Attorney General for the State of California. On December 4, 2012, she issued a memo to all executives of all state and local agencies.
In it, Harris said that her office no longer considered cooperation with ICE detainers mandatory. The pertinent portion of the directive is as follows:
Are Local Law Enforcement Agencies Required to Fulfill Individual ICE Immigration Detainers?
No. Local law enforcement agencies in California can make their own decisions about whether to fulfill an individual ICE immigration detainer. After analyzing the public-safety risks presented by the individual, including a review of his or her arrest offense and criminal history, as well as the resources of the agency, an agency may decide for itself whether to devote resources to holding suspected unlawfully present immigrants on behalf of the federal government.
On December 3, 2012, five California Democrats co-sponsored AB 4, of the 2013-2014 legislative session. The five were Senator Kevin Deleon, Nancy Skinner, Luis Alejo, and V. Manuel Perez. AB 4 has been dubbed “TRUST Act 3.0” by the website, Immigration Impact. (The TRUST Act itself was the second time such a bill was tried and failed.) In the coming months, the legislature will vote on AB 4, and this time they may even override Brown’s veto.
Meanwhile, about twenty-four hours following Harris’s announcement that it wasn’t mandatory to comply with ICE detainers, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced his office would no longer honor detainers on this with what that office considered minor offenses. According to the LA Times:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Wednesday he will no longer honor requests from federal authorities to detain suspected illegal immigrants arrested for low-level crimes, a reversal from his previous support of the controversial Secure Communities program.
Meanwhile, in October, the Police Chief for the City of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, issued his own directive. His officers would no longer turn over to authorities hundreds of illegal aliens his officers arrest every year on low-level offenses. Normally, they would be turned over for deportation.
LA County joins Santa Clara and San Francisco County’s as Counties in California that limit their cooperation with ICE detainers. In 2011, the Sheriff of San Francisco County issued a directive that the office reserved the right to review each detainer on a case-by-case basis and refuse any it deems directed at a non-violent individual.
In Santa Clara County, that county passed legislation similar to that of Cook County, where almost all detainers were ignored. Those charged with serious crimes were supposed to have their detainers honored, but ICE was still forced to do a sweep in December 2011 to round up sixty-three individuals including a child molester, suspected murderer, and drug dealer.
Even as Brown vetoed the TRUST Act, according to the Sacramento Bee, he met earlier this month with the California State Sheriffs' Association. In that meeting, Brown and the sheriffs discussed ways in which sheriffs could get more discretion in honoring detainers. Here’s what Greg Ahern, sheriff of Alameda County, told the Sacramento Bee:
Ahern, a vice president on the sheriffs association board, said most of the state's elected law enforcement officials are not looking to cut ties with federal immigration authorities. Rather, they seek small tweaks in the relationship.
It should be noted all of this is occurring as the California’s pensions face insolvency, the state’s budget is tens of billions in the red, and the state’s income tax is more than ten percent. The cost of illegal immigration, which sucks up as much of that state’s resources as any state in the union, is one of the costs that is driving all this madness. Yet, even as politicians in Sacramento fail to come up with fiscal answers, they are also going in the wrong direction on fixing their immigration mess.
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