California Sheriff Stands Up Against Sanctuary Policies
California has been the primary battleground over sanctuary city immigration policies. Late last year, Gov. Jerry Brown escalated this fight when he signed SB-54, known as the California Values Act, into state law. This legislation essentially made California a “sanctuary state,” vastly limiting who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question, and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities. But many local governments and law enforcement agencies are taking exception to this knew statewide policy.
The leadership of the Orange County Sheriff Department has been one of the most vocal opponents of this new sanctuary law. On March 26, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes took a bold step by announcing that they are now publicly providing information on when inmates are released from custody. An already-existing “Who’s In Jail” online database now includes the date and time of inmates’ release. This move will greatly enhance communication between federal immigration agents and local law enforcement.
Of course, the new information will apply to all inmates, not just those suspected of being in the country illegally. But the goal will ultimately be to assist Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (or ICE). Sheriff Barnes said, “This is in response to SB-54 limiting our ability to communicate with federal authorities and our concern that criminals are being released to the street when there’s another avenue to safeguard the community by handing them over (to ICE for potential deportation).” He said that the department did not coordinate with ICE before making this change.
Other Orange County communities are creating similar backlash. The City Council in Los Alamitos voted in March on an ordinance to exempt their city entirely from the new state law. A few other Orange County municipalities are considering resolutions as well, or other moves to voice their opposition to this law. The Yorba Linda City Council has agreed to file an amicus brief supporting the Trump Administration’s suit against California. The Orange County Board of Supervisors has considered a range of potential actions, including even pursuing litigation against their own state!
It’s encouraging to see boldness from local governments and law enforcement agencies as they fight to defend the rule of law in California!