California Sheriff Not Enforcing Immigration Laws to Make County Safer

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In Northern California, County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos declared on Tuesday that “effective immediately, his office will no longer respond to any requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for notification of an inmate’s release or transfer any inmate to its custody,” according to a Fox News report

In the announcement, Sheriff Bolanos states that “It has become apparent to me that complying with those requests regarding the pending release of undocumented individuals who have committed serious crimes is undermining the trust we need to protect the community. It is simply not worth losing the trust of many members of the public by continuing to process these requests from ICE.” 

Last year, the Sheriff’s Office “coordinated 15 transfers to ICE from the county jail,” adding that most who are guilty serve their sentences in state prison as opposed to the county jail. The Office has noted that ICE can still obtain a judicial warrant if they believe an individual may pose a dangerous threat. According to Fox News, the number of administrative arrests by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations is expected to show a decrease in Fiscal Year 2021 which has been the trend since Fiscal Year 2018. 

This decision comes after a meeting with residents who commented earlier in the month at the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds (TRUTH) Act Forum that they feel safer when the Sheriff’s Office does not enforce immigration laws. This meeting is required to convene “when law enforcement cooperates with ICE.” 

The President of the Board, David J. Canepa, believes the decision by Sheriff Bolanos to stop working with ICE is “momentous and compassionate.” Through terminating ties with ICE, Bolanos asserts that this is his way of ensuring the public is kept safe. He adds that “this decision helps fulfill his office’s mission to protect the safety of all San Mateo County residents, and it relies on county residents’ trust and willingness to cooperate with law enforcement, report crimes and testify in court.” 

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