Just Break The Law, No One Cares
FRENCH CAMP - The county Sheriff's Office said it is no longer holding immigration detainees in jail for U.S. immigration authorities, because detaining them could make the county liable for constitutional rights violations.
For years, the county had honored immigration hold requests issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But since Jan. 1, when California laws changed in regard to immigration holds, the county stopped this practice. State law still allows jails to hold individuals on immigration detainers based on certain criteria, including their criminal history, even if they have no current criminal charges reports the Stockton Record.
But San Joaquin County won't even be doing that.
And that's because of two recent federal court decisions that make the detentions unlawful altogether.
Inmates should be held only when there is probable cause a crime has been committed, according to those rulings. Unlike criminal arrests, immigration holds are civil matters that don't require probable cause.
In effect, the rulings say law enforcement should not be involved in such civil matters.
So, unless an inmate is in jail on a criminal matter, the county will release that person, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release issued earlier this month.
"Effective immediately, all inmates currently being held solely on an immigration detainer will be released from custody," the June 2 statement from the Sheriff's Office said.
The way it used to work is local law enforcement agencies detained undocumented immigrants on ICE requests to allow immigration agents time to pick them up and take them to a federal detention center.
Deputy Les Garcia, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said if an inmate without legal residency is in jail on a criminal matter, once the inmate completes a sentence or the case is adjudicated, that person will be released. In the past, the jail would hold them for immigration officials.
"I think that's a great shift in policy," said Jose Rodriguez, director of El Concilio, a Latino multiservice agency. "I think it's been a long time overdue.