Sheriff changes policy on dealing with immigration agents


Echoing decisions made by local law enforcement agencies around the state and across the country, the Sheriff's Office in San Mateo County recently changed its policy with respect to cooperating with federal immigration agents.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been routinely asking local authorities to temporarily detain arrested immigrants whom agents find of interest. As of May 23, immigrants eligible for release after being arrested will be released, despite ICE requests to detain them, unless there are "significant public safety concerns" about the person arrested, in which case the executive staff in the Sheriff's Office has to approve the detention.

Twenty-four other California counties have made similar policy changes, according to a list compiled by Jennie Pasquarella, an attorney with the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. There is a state context: Effective Jan. 1, the Trust Act, authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2013, sets minimum standards for not cooperating with ICE.

The Trust Act recommends honoring ICE detention requests if the immigrant has a criminal record of being convicted of a serious or violent felony, or a felony punishable by imprisonment by the state, or a misdemeanor that can also be punished as a felony.

ICE did not respond to an interview request.

According to the ICE website, the Obama administration has set "clear and common-sense priorities for immigration enforcement focused on identifying and removing those aliens with criminal convictions."

ICE claims a total of 368,644 "removals" for the 2013 fiscal year, including 133,551 people apprehended away from the borders, 82 percent of whom had criminal records.

The new policy at the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office sets aside the "criminal record" standard and simplifies the matter to detaining immigrants who represent a "significant public safety concern," adding that these instances are expected to be the "rare exception."

'Secure communities'

ICE makes its detainment requests through its Secure Communities program, which was launched in 2008 and, by January 2013, had reached "full implementation," including all law enforcement jurisdictions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories, according to the ICE website.

The program takes advantage of a routine in which local law enforcement sends fingerprint records of every arrest to the FBI. The FBI has been forwarding these records to the Department of Homeland Security, where ICE uses them "to determine whether that person ... is here illegally or is otherwise removable," according to the ICE website.

When someone appears "to be removable," ICE has been requesting that local law enforcement detain the person in jail for as much as 48 hours, weekends excluded, to allow for an ICE interview, after which ICE agents will decide whether to seek the person's deportation, the agency's website says.

The detention requests are not governed by requirements for warrants or established standards of proof, such as reasonable suspicion or probable cause, according to the Trust Act.

Such detentions, the Act says, "harm community policing efforts because immigrant residents who are victims of or witnesses to crime, including domestic violence, are less likely to report crime or cooperate with law enforcement when any contact with law enforcement could result in deportation."


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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:34 am

Dave, I believe you meant to say illegal alien or undocumented alien instead of immigrant.

An immigrant as defined by the US government - "An alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States." Thus an immigrant is not of interest to ICE since by definition they are in the US legally.

The government defines illegal alien -
"Also known as an "Undocumented Alien," is an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended, or an alien who entered the United States legally but who has fallen "out of status" and is deportable." And thus eligible to be arrested and deported even if they haven't committed any crime other than being in the US illegally.

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Posted by WHATEVER???
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm


Time to start throwing into jail the managers, executives and board members of companies that hire undocumented workers.

It's treason.

A couple nights in the pokey with their new roommates will allow most directors to see the error of their criminal ways.

No fines for the individuals that hire - jail time. Sure, fine the companies some bucks, but only after the jail time for the PEOPLE that broke our laws by hiring undocumenteds, and that hire 3rd party firms that use undocumenteds.

That's a Sheriff I could vote for.......

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Posted by Notsofast
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I believe that is a mistake. These people are here illegally and should be turned over to ICE for deportation. Enforce the law.

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Posted by Mrs. B
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm

The San Mateo County Sheriff should be RECALLED for failing to enforce the law. This is outrageous. The Sheriff's Office claims it has the wisdom and foresight to predict illegal aliens that will be a risk to the community. Tell that to the two people in San Francisco murdered by an illegal alien who should have remained in custody but was released by the authorities there because they didn't view him (despite a prior criminal record) as being a threat. Is the Sheriff's Dept. as good at predicting interest rates or stock prices? ENFORCE THE LAW or be removed from office.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Sheriff Munks has shown himself to be a risk to the community, but he was voted in *yet again*.

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Posted by recall growing
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

read the story before calling for a recall: "Echoing decisions made by local law enforcement agencies around the state and across the country..."

Going to recall everyone?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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