LA Sheriff Announces Ban on ICE Transfers for “Public Safety”

As sheriff for one of our nation’s most populous counties, I would think Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva would be doing everything in his power to limit the amount of crime within his jurisdiction. Furthermore, given that his county is so densely populated and, therefore, has such a high probability of crime, I’d also think that if there were ways to make his job easier or to deflect some of his responsibilities onto other agencies he would jump at the chance.

However, neither really seems to be the case, at least when it comes to criminal illegal aliens.

According to the liberal-minded sheriff himself and a statement he made last week, his office will no longer be transferring criminal illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, at least not “based solely on a civil immigration detainer.”

As ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Los Angeles Field Office Director Dave Marin explains, detainers are used for people who pass through our criminal justice system and are flagged as dangerous – not because of their immigration status but because of past convictions or pending criminal charges. “The detainer asks other law enforcement agencies to notify ICE in advance of an alien’s release, and to maintain custody of that alien for a brief period of time so that our officers can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody.”

Essentially, it takes the case out of local law enforcement hands and gives it the federal government, whose agencies are specifically trained for such situations.

Now, to be clear, LA County has already not been doing this. As both the Washington Examiner and Fox News have reported, Los Angeles County, in this year alone, has refused to turn over some 25,000 illegal immigrants into ICE hands after a supposed crime has been committed. In 2019, while over 11,000 detainer requests had been filed in the LA area, the sheriff’s office only turned over about five percent of those to the feds, and it was noted, that these were only because they were the worst of the worst in the system at the time.

But now, Villanueva and his officers won’t turn them over at all, no matter how dangerous a person might be.

Why? Well, according to Villanueva, “There is no great threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report a crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart.” He stated that he was responsible for “everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status. I will not allow an entire segment of the population to be afraid to report crimes to law enforcement and be forced, again, back into the shadows.”

However, it seems either Villanueva is unfamiliar with US federal immigration laws or that he just doesn’t want the immigrants in his jurisdiction to really know about them. In either case, it’s not a good look for the sheriff of about one million illegals.

You see, again, according to federal law, any illegal immigrant who is either a witness to or a victim themselves of a crime automatically qualifies for a visa in the United States. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Executive Associate Director Henry Lucero talked to the Examiner and said, “As a federal law enforcement agency, ICE supports all individuals reporting crimes regardless of immigration status in the United States.”

And that’s why he says, “It’s mind-boggling as a career law enforcement official that someone would implement this policy.”

Essentially, Villanueva’s new and now permanent moratorium doesn’t offer any such incentive for reporting crimes or not. And refusing to report dangerous criminals, regardless of illegal status or not, puts his community in direct and certain danger.

Instead of detainers, Villanueva suggests ICE use the more common “judicial warrant,” as all other law enforcement agencies do. But once again, there are problems with this idea.

Firstly, is that according to both sections 236 and 287 of the 8 Code of Federal Regulations, immigration officers do not require a “warrant” to arrest someone believed to be criminal.

And secondly, if such a warrant were required, it would only back up the criminal justice system even more. As it currently stands, there are over 150,000 detainers filed. If those were transferred to “warrants” and, therefore, filed with U.S district judges and magistrates, these officials would be looking at a severe increase to their already backlogged workload, which would obviously make it more difficult for every other case, not related to immigration, to be pushed back.

Does Villanueva really want to be responsible for that? Then again, it’s likely he wouldn’t care and would just use it as yet another thing to blame ICE for, that and the increases crime he is sure to experience as a result.