The pushback against the California Legislature’s decision to make California a “sanctuary” state has reached San Joaquin County.
But while communities like Ripon weigh passing ordinances standing with the federal government in their lawsuit against the state, and allow their legal counsel to file amicus curiae – “friends of the court” – briefs in solidarity, the actions might be little more than symbolic.
According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, the agency tasked with operating the San Joaquin County Jail is currently following all state laws, and will continue to do so.
Senate Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act, did away with a mandated provision that required law enforcement agencies that had suspected illegal aliens in their custody charged with crimes to notify the agencies tasked with deportation of said persons. In doing so, the law essentially tied the hands of local law enforcement agencies and prevented them from serving as an arm of the Federal government when it comes to enforcing immigration law.
A host of cities across California have taken a stand against the effort from Sacramento to protect non-residents from deportation. Ripon on Tuesday joined the growing list when they authorized City Attorney Tom Terpstra to file an amicus brief for the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the State of California seeking to nullify the controversial legislation.
With the positon of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, which is tasked with holding people within the county suspected of committing crimes, being to follow California law, individual cities like Ripon could end up operating on their own when it comes to notifying federal immigration officials about the immigration status of people they have arrested.
When asked about how the Sheriff’s Office would respond if a city like Lathrop, which holds a law enforcement contract with the Sheriff’s Office, followed Ripon’s lead, Public Information Officer Dave Konecny said that “all Sheriff’s personnel follow current state laws including Lathrop Police Services.”
Last year the City of Stockton received a letter from the Department of Justice asking for their cooperation with immigration enforcement and hinting that the federal Public Safety Partnership funds that are handed out by the DOJ could be in jeopardy if they don’t comply.
Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones noted in an interview with the Stockton Record that it was the San Joaquin County Sheriff that handles the detention for people arrested in Stockton – adding that the temporary holding facilities that the city employs aren’t suitable for the 48-hour notice and 48-hour extended custody that the DOJ was requesting from agencies.
Neither Stockton, nor San Joaquin County, have adopted the “sanctuary” statutes that have landed other cities in the crosshairs of the Trump administration. Stockton received its letter from the DOJ just two months before the State of California instituted its statewide sanctuary rules.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore in February confirmed deputies will work with Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) but only when public safety is an issue.
That means if ICE requests assistance from the department’s SWAT unit or other officers when serving a warrant involving a known violent undocumented immigrant, the sheriff’s office will respond.
The department, though, just like city police departments does not stop anyone for the purpose of asking for green cards or other such documentation tied to their legal status of being able to be in the United States.
“Only ICE can do that,” Moore said.
Moore said that he obtained that clarification directly from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra that his officers wouldn’t run afoul of state law if they respond to an ICE request providing manpower to assure public safety during the serving of a warrant where the subject is known to be violent.