MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

California Poised to Block Police from Helping DHS Detain Immigrants—Sometimes

The bill offers many, many exemptions.

Immigration protestRingo Chiu/ZUMA Press/NewscomTaking the reverse route of Texas, California lawmakers have passed a law restricting the ability of state and local police to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

The bill, SB 54, has been watered down since it was first introduced. This was at the insistence of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who wanted to make sure police and jailers can still help the feds deport people convicted of serious crimes.

The law allows police to cooperate with federal information and detention requests only when an arrested illegal immigrant has been convicted of certain crimes within a given time range. The crimes range from rape and murder to stalking, hate crimes, drug trafficking, and elder abuse; the time range is either five or 15 years, depending on the details of the offense. (To read the full list, go here.)

One change made to the bill, the Los Angeles Times notes, is that California prisons will still be allowed to let federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in to interview immigrants. That's one of the demands Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made for municipalities that want to keep receiving federal crime-fighting grants.

SB 54 also calls on the state to develop mechanisms to minimize federal access to database information held by state and local agencies (and private vendors), if the info will be used for immigration enforcement.

Though SB 54 goes through great pains to make it clear that police and jails can cooperate with ICE when dealing with an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, that has not reduced the Justice Department's criticisms of the legislation. A department spokesperson has declared the bill will "return criminal aliens back onto our streets."

But right now the department has a bigger problem. Late Friday a federal judge put a block on enforcement of new Justice Department rules aimed at forcing sanctuary cities to help the feds deport illegal immigrants.

The Justice Department has been trying to tie immigration enforcement to access to federal crime-fighting grants. In July it announced that in order to get access to a specific grants program, cities and counties had to permit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials into any detention facility to determine the immigration status of anybody being held there. In addition, local jails had to inform DHS 48 hours before releasing somebody in their custody if they had received a detainer order (a request from DHS to hold a deportable immigrant until a federal official can take the prisoner into custody).

Chicago sued to block the implementation of these rules, and a U.S. district judge concluded the city is likely to win. So he has implemented a nationwide injunction stopping the feds from enforcing the rules. This doesn't mean Chicago has won yet; the rules are merely suspended for now as the case works through the courts.

The new rules the Justice Department is attempting to implement do have some constitutional problems. The conditions Sessions is attempting to implement are not authorized by the text of the law, and so the executive branch is arguably bypassing Congress' power to set the terms for the grants. Furthermore, Chicago has argued that it's unconstitutional to require the city to hold people for 48 hours (or more) for the purpose of handing them over to immigration officials. To read more about Chicago's suit, go here.

Photo Credit: Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • damikesc||

    Nobody seems to explain how a city has a right to a grant. They have to APPLY for them and most don't.get them.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I know right? One would almost think that nobody is making that argument at all and claims to the contrary are a retarded strawman.

  • damikesc||

    You're aware that the injunction being offered is saying EXACTLY that.

    Chicago has literally zero rights to grant money and a judge (and the city) believe otherwise.

    I guess we now call that "libertarianism"

  • Scott S.||

    No government entities have rights. They have powers. They are arguing that the Justice Department lacks the power to insert new rules into this grant program authorized by Congress and lacks the power to deny access to the $$$.

    This about separations of powers between branches of government, not rights.

  • KevinP||

    Here in Austin, Texas, the Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez was pressured by Hispanic interest groups to implement a new sanctuary policy to protect their illegal criminals. Hernandez will now notify the federal government only when illegal aliens are booked into jail who have committed murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling.

    So Sheriff "Sanctuary" Sally will refuse to contact the Federal Government when illegal aliens are booked into jail for committing the following crimes among many others: manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, domestic violence, robbery, burglary, larceny, molestation and DUI. She will release them back into the community instead when they get bail.

    Of course, since illegal aliens usually prey upon their own ethnic group, legal immigrants and minorities will be the hardest hit. But never fear, all Austinites will be affected.

    The former Sheriff, Greg Hamilton, a common-sense Democrat, had a straightforward policy and procedures that worked well. Sally Hernandez has decided to throw that policy out in favor of criminal aliens.

    If you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump.

  • p3orion||

    Yeah, that pendulum hurts like a bitch when it swings back...

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    In July it announced that in order to get access to a specific grants program, cities and counties had to permit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials into any detention facility to determine the immigration status of anybody being held there.

    Hey, kid, what are you doing?

    Agent Tucker, FBI! And you?

    Detective Marsh. I'm in charge of this investigation!

    ...Not anymore, you're not!

    Hey, this is our case! You can't come in and take over

    Can't we? You guys are playing Detectives. We're playing FBI. That gives us jurisdiction over you!

    Aw crap!

  • colorblindkid||

    I'm gonna be that guy, but the headline should say "illegal" or "undocumented" immigrants. I'm as pro-immigration as they come, thinking we should have limitless legal immigration for anybody who wants to come here. However, the deliberate obfuscating of legal and illegal immigration is doing great harm to the pro-immigration cause.

  • colorblindkid||

    Not to mention people only read headlines, and the media is responsible for instilling fear in legal immigrants and naturalized citizens, some of whom are scared they will be deported any second. It is not Trump telling them that. It is the hyperbolic immigration activists scaring them with that.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: California Poised to Block Police from Helping DHS Detain Immigrants—Sometimes
    The bill offers many, many exemptions.

    Of course there are exemptions.
    How else can Kalifornia kick out people who want to become citizens of the USA without Grand Canyon sized loopholes?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    The first people ICE should detain & deport are everyone in the Legislature that voted for this bill.
    What? Those people are citizens? Since when did that ever hinder ICE/CBP.
    There must be a Felony Asshole exemption.

  • p3orion||

    "...are not authorized by the text of the law, and so the executive branch is arguably bypassing Congress' power to set the terms..."

    Wasn't Constitutional when obama did it, and it's still not Constitutional when Trump does it.. The difference is, Trump has a (theoretically) friendly Congress, which could change the law, if they could first grow some balls.

    I like the goal that's envisioned (reining in the scoff-law sanctuary cities) but process matters.

  • Casusbubble||

    Providing your family with dental insurance, not only helps to promote the health of their teeth and gums, but their bodies, as well. Research has linked periodontal disease with strokes and heart disease. In fact, a staggering number of systemic diseases cause oral complications, such as ulcers and inflamed gums, so early detection of these problems by a qualified dentist, could alert you that the underlying cause is a serious disease, such as diabetes, cancer or leukemia. Left Male Extra Avis, oral infections could also spread throughout the body, causing inflammation of organs or heart valves and resulting in complications of the digestive system. Nearly 50% of Americans do not have dental insurance and as a result, many of them do not receive adequate dental care. Don't let your family be a part of this statistic.

  • p3orion||

    Yeah! Goddamned illegal immigrants are ruining peoples' teeth!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online