In the next year, many of California’s local jails might limit federal immigration “holds” to detainees with felony convictions, greatly reducing the number of people deported from the state solely for entering the country without permission.
Gov. Jerry Brown met with leaders from the California State Sheriffs' Association last week to discuss ways to give city police and county sheriff's departments discretion on immigration enforcement.
Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern said he recommended legislation to amend state Penal Code 834b. The code mandates that law enforcement cooperate with federal agents "regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws."
Brown informed the sheriffs association that his office is working on draft legislation to that effect, Ahern said.
At issue is how local law enforcement should participate in Secure Communities, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program operating in most of the state.
The program checks detainees’ residency status using fingerprint data collected from county jails. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can then place a hold on those found to be in the country illegally. Federal officials have cast the effort as critical to finding and deporting unauthorized immigrants who are dangerous criminals.
However, Secure Communities frequently has snared detainees with no criminal histories.