Members of the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department say they are divided on federal requests asking they turn all persons suspected of being in the country illegally to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Some counties only turn defendants over if they have a serious criminal history. Others counties, such as Santa Clara, won’t hold immigration detainees unless the federal government agrees to pay for the cost of housing them. The government has reportedly said they will not write that check.
The San Mateo Sheriff’s Department is among those agencies who turn over all undocumented immigrants. This policy, they said, is backed by the California State Sheriff’s Association. Still, some state Sheriff’s have said they are reconsidering this policy after having met with leaders from the Latino community.
One said he questions whether it is in the greatest interest of public safety to hold an undocumented defendant on a misdemeanor offense.
At the current time anyone found to be in the country illegally and is about to be released is subject to a 48-hour ICE hold. This allows federal agents time to travel to the jail and retrieve the defendant. Latino community activists have said that nearly 30% of those deported due to ICE holds do not have a prior criminal history.
ICE officials have said that not holding undocumented immigrants per federal instruction “undermines public safety”. Others have said it is up to public agencies to decide whether it is in the best interest to keep these people in custody. It is unclear if the matter will wind up being heard by an appellate court.