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Judicial Watch

In a distressing sign of the times, the official elected to enforce the law in a major U.S. County is being sued for transferring illegal immigrant criminals to federal authorities. Collaborating with the feds—rather than releasing illegal alien offenders back into the community—compounds racial disparities in the policing, immigration, and criminal justice systems, in which black and Latinx communities are disproportionately targeted for arrest, detention, and deportation. At least that is what the leftist civil rights group that filed the lawsuit this week claims. The scary part is that the local law enforcement agency will probably lose the legal battle because the entire state is a sanctuary for illegal immigrants and official measures have been enacted to protect the undocumented from deportation.

The defendant in the case is Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, currently serving his third term as the top cop in the central California county of around 1.6 million that includes the state’s capitol. Jones and his agency are accused of violating California sanctuary laws by reporting illegal immigrants jailed for committing local crimes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) upon completing their sentence. The offenders are eligible to return to their home and communities in the U.S. but instead are enduring a “cruel double punishment,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, Sean Riordan, who filed the complaint on behalf of the illegal immigrants. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s “anti-immigrant agenda” harms communities, the ACLU lawyer asserts.

Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a 26-year-old Mexican national, Misael Echeveste, who has lived in the Sacramento area illegally since he was a young child. After serving a six-week sentence for assault and battery at a county facility called Rio Consumnes Correctional Center (RCCC), Echeveste was transferred to ICE and is fighting deportation to Mexico where the ACLU points out “he doesn’t know anyone or have family.” Another plaintiff, identified by the initials M.A.A., was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol without a license. The following day, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office turned him over to ICE, and he was “permanently separated from his family in Sacramento,” the complaint states. The rest of the plaintiffs include three other illegal immigrants arrested by the agency for driving under the influence of alcohol, not exactly pillars of the community.

The lawsuit alleges that “sheriff’s officials unlawfully transfer(ed) immigrants to ICE after they have completed their county jail sentences, rather than releasing them to their families and communities or following proper notification procedures inside the jail.” Specifically, the suit accuses the sheriff’s office of violating two state laws, known as the TRUTH Act and the California Values Act. The first one, which went into effect in 2017, requires that local police give criminals in the U.S. illegally a written notice of their transfer to ICE. The second, which was enacted a year later, forbids all California law enforcement agencies from using funds or employees to “investigate, interrogate, detain or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.” The measure is also known as SB 54, the state’s sanctuary law.

Dozens of cities throughout the nation have passed sanctuary measures to shield illegal immigrants, but only 11 states have enacted blanket laws. Besides California, they include Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Additionally, a growing number of leftist officials running local governments refuse to participate in a federal-local partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. ICE has repeatedly warned that when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on some of the culprits, providing outrageous examples that include elected law enforcement officials freeing child sex offenders, major counties releasing numerous violent convicts and a state—North Carolina—that discharged nearly 500 illegal immigrant criminals from custody in a year.

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