|Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood|
How about obeying the law?
The Kern County Sheriff takes on Democrats
who deliberately encourage law breaking.
(Los Angeles Times) - Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood was hiking along the bluffs overlooking Bakersfield last year when he got a call from Gov. Jerry Brown.
"What are you trying to do to me?" the sheriff said Brown asked him.
"What are you trying to do to me?" Youngblood shot back.
A Republican in one of the reddest counties in the state, Youngblood had riled the Democratic governor when he announced that his department would defy the Trust Act, a law signed by Brown that restricts cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents.
The sheriff said the law put him in an impossible position, stuck between a federal program that relies on local jails to hold inmates who might be deportable and a state law that says inmates in jail for low-level crimes can't be detained past their release dates.
That kind of stance has won him enemies in California's immigrant-rights movement and frequent comparisons to Joe Arpaio, the brash Arizona sheriff notorious for his workplace raids and ID checks.
Youngblood, 64, said he isn't trying to make headlines. The Vietnam War veteran, who grew up working in the potato sheds around Bakersfield, said he's happier hiking or riding his quarter horse, Sparky.
He lives in the same modest suburban neighborhood where he grew up, on Bakersfield's now heavily Latino Eastside, and bristles at accusations that his policies encourage racial profiling, pointing out that a third of his deputies are Latino.
As he drove through town on a recent morning, past oil derricks, gated golf courses and strip malls lined with Mexican restaurants and carnicerias, Youngblood outlined his philosophy on immigration.
The federal government should start enforcing immigration laws — or write new ones, he said. He criticized President Obama's new deportation policies, which say most immigrants who have not committed serious crimes and have fewer than three minor crimes on their records should not be priorities for removal.
"You're in this country illegally and we're going to give you three bites of the apple? That's three victims!" Youngblood said. "If you commit crimes, you oughta go."
At a time when the Democrat-controlled Legislature has moved to allow such immigrants to drive, practice law and pay in-state college tuition — passing 26 immigrant-friendly laws last year alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — Youngblood is an outlier.
He has largely refused to sign paperwork that immigrant crime victims need to apply for U visas, which allow some victims to stay in the country lawfully. As president of the Major County Sheriffs' Assn., a national advocacy group, he has asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to share data with police so patrol officers can determine whether the person they stop may be in the country illegally.
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