California’s recent move to become the nation’s first full-fledged sanctuary state has been a controversial decision–one that is now receiving immense backlash from the law enforcement community.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, California sheriffs are calling on the state government to retract the “sanctuary state” law, which they argue will make it more difficult for authorities to refer violent criminals to immigration officials.
The law signed on Thursday by California Governor Jerry Brown (D) goes into effect in January. The law that is officially known as the “California Values Act” limits the degree to which local law enforcement can cooperate with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As part of California’s new sanctuary state status, police and sheriffs’ offices are now barred from asking about immigration status or participating in immigration enforcement efforts.
Additionally, law enforcement is only allowed to work with ICE officers in the deportation of illegal immigrants if these persons are guilty of felonies. Criminals charged with misdemeanors cannot be referred to ICE under the new law.
The National Sheriffs’ Association has been vocal in its criticism of these policies. The organization asserts this will make it harder for police to enforce the law and will place California’s residents at risk.
Jonathan Thompson, Executive Director and CEO of National Sheriffs’ Association, said: “It is unfortunate that California’s law enforcement has become pawns in this political game, but they will continue to do their jobs diligently to protect their communities.”
The nation-wide law enforcement organization called on California’s legislature and Governor to adopt measures that would prioritize the well-being of innocent citizens and legal permanent residents over criminal illegal immigrants. They stated, “We also implore leaders in Washington to take action and pass sensible legislation that would prevent careless legislation from hamstringing law enforcement and would give them the tools to combat dangerous policies like this.”
National Sheriffs’ Association takes particular issue with the aspect of the law that says illegal criminals can only be referred to ICE for felonies.
Law enforcement officials say this is a loophole that allows gang members and drunk drivers to walk free. “If a gang member is arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or a felony that is not covered by the law, we would be precluded from contacting ICE,” said California State Sheriffs’ Association President Bill Brown. The problem is due to the fact that there are many misdemeanor crimes, such as assault, battery, possession of narcotics, and driving without a license.
Under the law, criminals who commit any of those misdemeanors cannot be targeted by local authorities for deportation. Brown goes on to say: “My concern is that, statewide, we’re going to have this issue—that you end up with a known gang member in custody for a particular crime that is not covered and we wouldn’t be able to make that notification.”
Politicians are making it hard for law enforcement to report illegal activity. Do you support Trump’s immigration policies?
In addition, California law says a person must be convicted four times in a decade for it to be considered a felony. Critics of the new law argue this will allow many repeat offenders to evade immigration enforcement.
As Breitbart notes, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had cut Justice Department funding to cities that refuse to cooperate with ICE. However, a federal court has placed a temporary injunction on the policy in response to a lawsuit from Chicago.