By Miriam Raftery
San Diego Supervisors are considering joining the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s sanctuary state law, or Senate Bill 54, which protects certain undocumented immigrations by setting limits on cooperation between local law enforcement departments and federal immigration authorities.
San Diego Supervisors are expected to discuss the matter on April 17th in a closed-door meeting with County Counsel. But while Supervisor Jacob agues that the Trump administration's push to force local law enforcement officers to stringently enforce federal immigration mandates would increase public safety, Sheriff Bill Gore suggests it would have the opposite effect, making communities less safe by making immigrants afraid to report crimes.
Fox News reports that Supervisor Dianne Jacob is leading the effort for San Diego to follow the lead of Orange County in joining the federal lawsuit against our state’s government. She says the issue is a matter of major“public safety” to prevent immigrants from being released from jail to potentially commit more crimes. Jacob predicted the proposal is likely to be approved by Superivsors on a 3-2 vote.
Jacob said of the action, “Let’s be clear — this is about people who are coming into our country illegally and they’re breaking the law — they’re criminals.”
But San Diego County’s Sheriff, Bill Gore, told East County Magazine in an interview last week taped for airing on KNSJ radio that California’s sanctuary state law already allows ample cooperation between his department and federal authorities regarding immigrants who have committed serious crimes, thanks to changes that Sheriff Gore helped to negotiate directly with Governor Jerry Brown. Those allow his jail staff to turnover immigrants who have been convicted of, or arrested for more than 800 serious crimes.
Sheriff Gore voiced serious concerns about the federal crackdown on immigrants who have not committed serious crimes vs. state law, stating, "This is“a terrible example of politics getting in the way of public safety…I don’t know a chief or a sheriff in the state that wants our deputy sheriffs or our officers out there enforcing federal immigration laws. It makes us all less safe.”
He notes that San Diego County has an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 undocumented people. “If you have that many people that see deputy sheriffs as immigration officers, and they are afraid to report crimes, that makes us all less safe.”
Our interview was conducted before news about the County seeking to join the Trump lawsuit was known, though Orange County had announced its intent to do so. But Gore suggested that the Trump administration lawsuit seeking to force federal interference with local law enforcement by overturning California's sanctuary state law is unnecessary and counterproductive.
He noted that there is a long history of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) screening people in county jails . State law has changed what information can be shared with federal partners. Gore said he met personally with Governor Jerry Brown to make the state's intiiallly proposed law more acceptable. In the final bill adopted, Gore says he can notify ICE when prisoners who have been convicted or, or arrested for any one of 800 serious crimes are set for release from jail, so that ICE can take the into custody if the agency wishes to do so. State law does not require such notification for minor offenses.
If ICE does not take custody of serious offenders in jails, the agency will do sweeps in neighborhoods instead, the Sheriff says. “We’re trying to get a good policy in place that provides public safety and keeps our neighborhoods safe,” he concludes.
Hear Sheriff Gore's comments at the audio link above.