Orange County Sheriff’s Department and other local agencies are ignoring California Senate Bill 54 (SB54 aka The Values Act), Assembly Bill 103, and Assembly Bill 450, put in place to prevent local law enforcement from helping ICE.
The Sheriff’s Department justifies their actions stating their goal is to “remove dangerous offenders from our community.” However, this justification flies in the face of statistics in Orange County. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the crime rate in Orange County has not increased but has actually decreased since the passing of the sanctuary bills. The Sheriff’s Department also point to various gray areas in SB54 as justification.
More than just inmates stand to suffer as a result of the actions of the Sheriff’s Department. Under current law, when an immigrant is a witness to a crime, they are protected from deportation. However, due to the lack of compliance by the law enforcement, immigrants who see crimes in action or are the victims of crimes are being deported or refusing to report crime for fear of deportation. As a result, crime victims and witnesses are not being protected.
A study performed by UC Irvine Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic, partnered with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ilrc), and Resilience Orange County, collected and analyzed data they presented in a report called “The State of Orange County” showing that the Sheriff’s Department appears to be assisting ICE, in violation of current law and policy.
The report lays out their findings which show the Sheriff’s Department and other local agencies are helping ICE locate immigrants to be deported by bypassing portions of policies created to prevent this kind of interrelationship.
The Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, the University of Oxford Centre for Criminology, and the Border Criminologies, penned a report dubbed “Turning the Golden State Into a Sanctuary State,” again addressing the practices in Orange County with regards to their lack of compliance with the sanctuary laws. They include a course of corrective action which would allow the Attorney General to slap non complying agencies with fines.
The Department has made no effort to conceal its position regarding the sanctuary bills, releasing an approximate figure of $27 million per year for their contractual agreement with ICE concerning the detention practices of inmates facing deportation. A newly implemented practice in the department includes posting the release dates of inmates publicly on their website so that ICE may easily access the information, “whether their sentence was served or charges were dropped.”
On a National level, the Trump administration recently approached the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with a motion for a preliminary injunction against California’s SB54, AB103, and AB450; all related to sanctuary status. Their claims were that the bills are unconstitutional. California Governor Gavin Newson and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra were named as the defendants in the document.
On April 18, the 9th Circuit issued a decision denying the motion, finding the bills Constitutional.
In light of the information and data available regarding law enforcement agencies and their unapologetic disregard to the sanctuary bills through their actions, it would be remiss for one not to question the motivations behind such possible abuse of power.
One of the main jobs of law enforcement is to uphold the law without regard to personal opinion. If left unchecked, in addition to the several areas of the community at large that are already feeling the heat, it stands to reason that many more will follow.
Regardless of one’s personal political beliefs, in order to maintain a cohesive and thriving community, those who take an oath to uphold the law and to protect the community must be held accountable for their egregious unwillingness to follow the law at least as much as the citizens they vow to serve.
If you are a victim of crime in Orange County and are an immigrant who is concerned about being turned over to ICE, contact the Law Offices of Lisa A. Kopelman for assistance.