San Mateo County will no longer use county funds, law enforcement and other resources to assist federal officials in enforcing immigration law.
The county's Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance Tuesday, April 11, by a 4-1 vote that will prevent county agencies, commissions, employees and other representatives from using county resources to assist entities like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The ordinance also prohibits sharing information with immigration authorities and granting them access to detention facilities unless required by a federal warrant or court decision.
County officials and employees could still work with federal immigration authorities in cases that do not concern immigration law enforcement, such as an investigation into human trafficking.
Supervisor David Canepa, who introduced the ordinance with fellow Supervisor Warren Slocum, argued that collaborating with ICE is a public safety hazard and that federal immigration authorities often separate families who are otherwise upstanding members of their community.
"If not for where they were born, these community members would be allowed to return home to their families and communities," Canepa said.
Since 2018, state law has limited law enforcement involvement in deportations and immigration enforcement activities at public schools, hospitals, courthouses and libraries.
However, local jurisdictions can also enact their own statutes to avoid cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus expressed her support for the ordinance, arguing that she wants the Sheriff's Office to prioritize the safety and trust of all of the county's residents.
Avoiding collaboration with ICE in immigration enforcement activities without a valid warrant has been part of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office since November 2021, when former Sheriff Carlos Bolanos ran the department.
"I've personally seen the effect and trauma experienced by families who have had loved ones taken into ICE custody," Corpus said. "It is not something that I would like our office to be associated with."
Supervisor Ray Mueller was the lone dissenting vote against the ordinance, noting that he supported the policy in a broad sense but felt the county should not be prevented from cooperating with immigration investigations of people convicted of serious felonies.
"This board is being asked to eliminate the exception that the county could cooperate with federal authorities when an individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony ... including, but not limited to, murder, rape and lewd and lascivious acts on children under the age of 14," Mueller said.
Mueller also argued that he has not seen any data supporting the idea that San Mateo County residents living in the county without documentation have hesitated to report a serious crime like homicide or rape because of their immigration status and concerns that the county could transfer them to ICE custody.
The board must vote on the ordinance a second time to officially adopt it and is expected to do so at a future meeting.