Orange County Steps Up Resistance to California Sanctuary Law
By Roxana Kopetman
The Orange County Sheriff's Department, whose leadership opposes the new California sanctuary law that limits cooperation with federal immigration officials, announced Monday that it is now providing public information on when inmates are released from custody.
As of Monday, March 26, an existing "Who's in Jail" online database includes the date and time of inmates' release -- a move agency officials say will enhance communication with its law enforcement partners.
The release date information applies to all inmates, not just those who are suspected of being in the country illegally. But the goal is to assist agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
"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)," Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said.
Orange County officials did not confer with ICE before making the change, he said.
ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley wrote in an email late Monday that she would not comment "beyond what the Sheriff has said."
The new state law, dubbed the California Values Act, has recently seen a backlash from some Orange County communities. The City Council in Los Alamitos voted last week on an ordinance to exempt the city in northern Orange County from the state law.
A few other Orange County cities are considering resolutions and other moves to voice their opposition to the law. The Yorba Linda City Council, for example, agreed to file an amicus brief to a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration against California and immigration-related laws the federal government alleges are unconstitutional. And on Tuesday, March 27, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider a range of possible actions: from a resolution to pursuing litigation against the state.
Annie Lai, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at UC Irvine, said the sheriff's new policy is part of a movement in Orange County "to either undermine or get around the spirit of SB-54."
The California Values Act already allows communication between local and federal agencies about release dates of those convicted of enumerated crimes who may be eligible for deportation, Lai noted.
"This change in policy is basically affecting everybody else who doesn't have a serious criminal history under SB-54," she said. Sheriff's deputies, however, will still not be able to assist in an actual transfer to ICE agents under state law.
The release information, via a long list of names in alphabetical order, is now available for anyone to view at oscd.org.
(c)2018 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)