COVID-19 & Justice Immigration

LA County Supes Poised to Make Permanent Sheriff’s Ban on Transferring People Jails to ICE Absent a Judicial Warrant

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On April 24, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced a moratorium on holding and transferring people from LASD custody to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless ICE agents presented a judicial warrant. At the beginning of August, the sheriff transitioned the transfer ban into official department policy.

This does not guarantee the ban’s permanence, however, as the next sheriff could come in and revert the policy and resume holding people beyond their jail release dates on behalf of ICE.

Thus, on Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion that would take the effort a step further. Specifically, the motion would “prohibit the use of any County resources, property, personnel, time, labor or funds to be used to honor requests by immigration authorities … to hold, detain, house, transfer or otherwise facilitate the arrest of any person in the Sheriff’s Department custody, unless pursuant to a judicial warrant or judicial probable cause determination, or as otherwise required by Federal or State law.” The motion would also ban local law enforcement from communicating with immigration authorities regarding the dates and times that individuals would be released, or their immigration statuses without a warrant or judicial probable cause.

This action would “further the County’s ongoing response to the public health emergency, and in the interest of permanently safeguarding the health, safety, and constitutional rights of all Angelenos,” by further disentangling the sheriff’s department from immigration agencies, Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl wrote in their motion.

The threat of deportation keeps undocumented victims of crime from seeking help, the sheriff said when he announced the new policy the beginning of August.

“There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart,” Villanueva said.

The sheriff said his decision was precipitated by the alarming coronavirus statistics coming out of local and national ICE lockups.

As of mid-July, ICE records indicated that at least 23 percent of those tested for coronavirus (3,183 out of 13,562) in federal detention facilities had tested positive. The massive spread of the virus throughout detention facilities has been due to immigration officials’ avoidance of “widespread [COVID-19] testing of staff and detainees … not for lack of tests, but for fear that positive test results would require them to implement safety measures that they apparently felt were not worth the trouble.”

And, the motion notes, other research suggests that ICE officials may be severely underreporting the number of COVID cases that have occurred within immigration lockups.

At the scandal-plagued Adelanto detention facility, ICE has blocked the use of the majority of the 1,900 coronavirus test kits it received. And while LA County’s criminal justice leaders have been significantly reducing LA jail population in response to coronavirus, ICE, in its “callous disregard for human lives,” Kuehl and Solis write, “has resisted and refused to significantly change its enforcement and detention practices in the face of the pandemic — imperiling the health and lives of county residents.”

19 Comments

  • Why are the liberals doing this? Oh, that’s right – laws should be ignored. Illegal aliens have a right to everything Americans enjoy in their leftist dystopia. As the former president of Mexico said, “There are no borders, just regions of the world.” Sounds about right for a socialist.

    • Exactly… you have to “appreciate” the way the young Ms. Taylor elected to report these “facts” – it would seem someone could use a refresher in journalistic integrity and unbiased reporting. Here are some balanced facts to consider (you could have found these by using Google – I am happy to show you how if you need the assist): 1. No judge in this country has the authority to issue a warrant for civil immigration violations (so, is CA trying to get around federal law?); 2. It looks like ICE signed policy in 2011 that prohibits initiating removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime (so, is Villanueva confused or lying about something?); 3. It looks like there have been more than 25,000 criminals released by local law enforcement in this area alone since the beginning of this fiscal year (so, should I feel safer?); 4. It looks like more than 100 percent of detainees have been tested by now, and only about 20 have ever tested positive (many of whom are no longer infected)… so, why misreport data? Again, Taylor, you just need to pay a little better attention to details and consider reporting basic facts.

  • @Dose, from the mouth of the Sheriff ..“There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart,” the rest of us do not matter ?

    • 9 Adam,

      There’s quite a difference between witnesses and victims and those is jails who committed the crimes. A policy that prohibits department members from checking the immigration status of witnesses and victims would solve the problem. Oh, guess what – that already exists. Those who run afoul of the law and are here illegally need to be deported. It’s a pretty simple concept.

  • Great Idea Sheriff, all the hard working law abiding immigrants end up in the county jail right? Here’s an idea. Instead of handing the rapists, robbers and killers over to ICE let’s move them next door to the Sheriff. I’m curious If anyone really thinks this policy is a good idea. The immigrants I know don’t want rapists and child molesters living next door to them. This is why crime is out of control under this sheriff and will continue to escalate. Villanueva is completely soft on crime as evidenced by the time he was watching radio cars burn on the big screen at EOB. He thought he was watching a movie and had no Idea how to react. He didn’t learn that riding a bike in the ELA projects while the others deputies fought crime. Beyond inept.

    • You’re so right – not to mention the fact that most of these criminal offenders are often released to re-offend in the community they originally harmed… often the immigrant community. Why would local law enforcement double-down for political popularity? A “catch-and-release” process does not work with abusers, rapists, and sex offenders… we need to get these serious offenders off our streets and out of this nation; it’s not that immigrants don’t deserve to be here, it’s that CRIMINAL aliens have no place in our society.

  • How in the hell does this sheriff have any support from anyone, anymore?
    The left hates him because he snuggles with crooked deputies
    The right hates him because of shit like this

    Whoever runs against him will not have to spend a dollar to advertise. Just say, “I’m running against the idiot we have now.”
    Landslide

    • Have you read the reports surrounding all the scandals he is caught up with? If he is not being sued for harassment and slander (costing tax payers millions), he is allowing a criminal (gang) organization to operate under his nose, within his department, among his officers – HE is the problem with safety and security.

  • Did anyone at WLA read the headline before this was published? Maybe I am reading it wrong, but transferring “People Jails” doesn’t seem to fit.

    • The preposition “from” should be between “people” and “jails” to indicate a point of departure and a final destination.

      One word can sure make a difference in sentence coherence.

  • Why is anyone surprised about this. Wasn’t this part of the Sheriff’s campaign promises? Wasn’t this part of his platform as the Democratic challenger? Isnt this what politicians do? There would people condeming and villainizing Villanueva if he didn’t keep his promise. Well, I guess he’s just not the right type of Democratic that’s in style at this time. It’s just like the District Attorney race with Jackie Lacey, the real truth is that folks will be in your political corner and “claim you” for those issues they agree with on and view you as the spawn of Satan on those issues you disagree with them on. Such dysfunction within in the same politucsl party. I guess the Sheriff and DA Lacey made the mistake of not pledging their souls and first born to the far-left radical socialist wing of the Democratic Party.

  • C: I’m glad to see that WLA didn’t overreact(again) to the shooting last night. Let us wait and see what are the facts before we support violence and socialism-Karen?

    • It’s been 24 hours now & one fact that is yet to come out is what Vehicle Code section the bicyclist violated before he got shot twenty times.

      Is the bicycle part of the California Vehicle Code THAT hard to dig through?

        • Evidently he “had a Hoover Crip gang tat on his left bicep’ (quotation from the Dijon Kizzee story, comment section), which attracted Deputy attention–in proactive policing a stop would be sure to yield contraband, warrants, or illegal activity like a felon in possession of a firearm.

          Sure thing.

          It was the tattoo, not the bicycle violation, that did it.

          • Nice guess, but that’s all it is Perry Mason. This was taken from what somebody noticed from his picture, that’s all. Not anything from what’s been said about the initial stop. Be interesting to read the coroners report as I’ve heard the audio and it doesn’t sound like no 20 shots, could be wrong though.
            Guess we’ll see.

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