The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has decided to reject California state sanctuary policy, announcing this week that it will provide the records of criminally arrested illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
An official statement indicated Thursday that the department will be the first local or state law enforcement agency to comply with a slew of recent administrative subpoenas issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in five sanctuary states, including Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Oregon, The Associated Press reported.
According to Sheriff William Gore’s statement, however, the decision was not political, nor did it have anything to do with willful “cooperation.”
Instead, it was a conclusion reached out of “obligation” to the rule of law.
Statement on Immigration Enforcement Subpoenas. pic.twitter.com/kyurW069Tt
— San Diego Sheriff (@SDSheriff) February 21, 2020
“A federal subpoena creates a mandatory legal obligation and is not ‘cooperation.’ The disobedience of a lawfully issued subpoena can be punishable by contempt of federal court,” Gore wrote, revealing federal authorities had requested the arrest and jail records of four specific individuals apparently suspected of immigration violations.
“The information requested by the subpoenas relates to the providing of documents, not honoring detainers and transferring individuals to ICE. These subpoenas deal only with records and information,” the statement read. “As such, the Sheriff’s Department is legally obligated to provide these records and will be doing so under that obligation.”
The department did clarify that it does not generally coordinate or cooperate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or its enforcement arms, as it is prevented from doing so by the California Values Act.
Signed into law in October 2017, Democratic Senate Bill No. 54 effectively prohibits local and state law enforcement agencies from voluntarily using resources or manpower to aid DHS in enforcing federal immigration law. It made California the first official “sanctuary state.”
The bill does not, however, provide guidance on local and state response to lawfully issued federal subpoenas.
Questions have since been raised as to the legal backing behind ICE‘s most recent slew of administrative subpoenas, which the AP reported were signed by an unnamed immigration official rather than a federal judge.
Regardless, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert Brewer reportedly told the AP that Gore’s department has already complied with two of the four subpoenas issued. The remaining two are due next week.
“We’re calling on Congress to pass legislation giving American victims the right to sue Sanctuary cities and hold them accountable for the suffering and the damages that they’ve caused” —Donald J. Trump 🇺🇸 @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/Luwxzh4Qy9
— Maggie VandenBerghe 🇺🇸 (@FogCityMidge) February 15, 2020
“Look at some of the horrific crimes that are committed that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have sanctuary cities for criminals.” Pres. Trump responds to California’s immigration policies during visit to Los Angeles Tuesday. Story: https://t.co/m6H6zWdRqX pic.twitter.com/wx382sMtps
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) February 19, 2020
The announcement comes close on the heels of recent attempts by the Trump administration to tamp down more strongly on major sanctuary cities and states.
Traveling out West for a four-day trip this week, the president spoke strongly regarding the issue of local cooperation with immigration enforcement at a series of rallies, news events and even the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics preparations briefing.
“I think it’s terrible,” Trump told reporters at the Tuesday briefing. “I think sanctuary cities, as you know, are very dangerous. You just look at some of the horrific crimes that are committed — that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have sanctuary for criminals.
“With L.A., San Francisco and other places,” the president added. “They have one thing in common: the leadership. There’s no reason that this should have ever happened.”
Unable after roughly three years to force compliance with federal law enforcement in some of the nation’s most vehement illegal immigrant sanctuaries, the Trump administration signaled last week that DHS would be mobilizing more than 100 U.S. Customs and Border Patrol tactical operators to carry out necessary raids without local support.
The Department of Justice has also moved this month to file lawsuits against the states of California, New Jersey and Washington, seeking court rulings on the legality of federally funded local and state agencies refusing compliance and cooperation with federal enforcement efforts, The New York Times reported.
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