The following quotes below from the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Oversight (IOLERO) report and recommendations corroborate my experience that the Sheriff’s Office has, of date, been less than forthright in clearly explaining the extent of its cooperation with ICE from a jail context. Reading this full report by IOLERO Director Jerry Threet lays out the issues in a clear and concise way. This method of inquiry and research challenges council member Cook’s statement that he was taught to respect authority… sometimes authority can be wrong, and it pays for citizens to ask questions.
Given that the Sonoma city council has an ad hoc committee, of Mayor Hundley and council member Cook, to look into what sort of statement or stance the city may want to take regarding current Sheriff’s and Trump immigration policy, I hope that these comments of mine will be read by the ad hoc committee, and that my thoughts can make a difference.
I-247 N voluntary ICE notifications and ICE D-file access
I found out about these voluntary notifications but could not get a straight answer about them from Sheriff’s deputies. After persistence and asking questions, I found that current jail policy is to notify ICE of all non-citizen releases, regardless of level of infraction or presumption of innocence of any crime. The Sheriff’s Office also allows ICE to have access to inmate’s files, also regardless of level of infraction or presumption of innocence of any crime. This voluntary cooperation with ICE amounts to the Sheriff’s Office supporting the Trump ICE dragnet to deport all non-citizens, regardless of the clearly flawed and erroneous rationales used. This goes against Sheriff’s Office proclamations that they do not cooperate with immigration enforcement.
Do the math on public safety
The Sheriff’s Office has fallen back on rationales of maintaining “public safety”, and getting the “bad guys”, to justify ICE cooperation (I-247 N notification and D-file access) from jail. However, the numbers just don’t add up here. Sonoma County has 25,000 non-citizens, who because of past Sheriff’s Office practices and Trump administration inflammatory campaign and policy statements, are fearful to cooperate with police and deputies in any way. This lack of trust clearly reduces public safety.
This then is measured against a handful of serious and violent felon non-citizens legally released from jail in the last year. (Why “serious and violent felons” are released is because they have legally made bail, or they are simply charged and presumed to be innocent, or they were previously convicted but served their sentence already.) What better serves public safety and the huge majority of 25,000 “good guys”, a sanctuary policy that increases trust of police, or ICE cooperation for a small handful of “bad guy” releases?
The answer is clear.
ICE disentanglement is a better rationale for public safety than is ICE cooperation.
Civil infractions vs. DUI, and who is a criminal?
Please note that being in the US illegally is not a crime, it is a civil violation. People can end up in jail for any number of reasons, of which they turn out to be innocent. People also make mistakes. For example, I believe the Sheriff’s Office and state Sheriff’s Association wants to include DUI in the list of offenses about which to contact ICE. If a DUI is such a serious criminal problem, how in the world can Sonoma tolerate an economy centered on becoming intoxicated, after which it is well known that people drive!?#@%#$^@^% This then makes our beloved tourists into a horde of de facto and incipient criminals. I want to see some roadblocks off the Plaza at 10:PM on the weekends, if we want to talk law and order and public safety.
Sanctuary recommended for Sonoma
My studied opinion here. The City of Sonoma should: support the current IOLERO report and recommendations, and support SB-54 with no further amendments. The IOLERO recommendations and SB-54 amount to sanctuary, whether you say it or not. So, Sonoma, ad hoc committee, why not just say it? Stand up and be counted. That would be the most honest and forthright thing to do. As you will see from the IOLERO quotes below, serious and violent felons are slated for Sheriff’s ICE cooperation from jail. This is a reasonable characterization of the “bad guys.”
ICE dragnet is immoral and unjust
Given Trump policy to deport all non-citizens, can Sonoma support a Sheriff’s policy that all non-citizens who end up in jail are “bad guys?” No, that would be supporting an immoral dragnet for valued community members. This characterization of bad guys recaps some of the worst civil rights, human rights and nativism chapters in US and world history: the Fugitive Slave Act, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Holocaust, Japanese Internment, Nixon’s “law and order” crack down, and previous episodes of harsh deportation of Mexicans and Latin Americans. This is not public safety nor law and order, this is a dark pattern of flat out racism and superficial prejudice that calls to be RESISTED.
Continue Sheriff’s contract for local police?
Furthermore, I recommend that if the Sheriff’s Office does not hear the public, as represented by safe haven/ sanctuary declarations by the Board of Supervisors and elected representatives of all county cities, that the city should discontinue its contract with the Sheriff’s Office, so that local policing policy will better reflect the electorate here in Sonoma and Sonoma Valley.
The Sheriff’s Office will have to comply with the Values Act anyway, i.e. SB-54. So it really says something that the SO is against it. This shows what de the SO is on here. Hopefully in its vote today (4/3 call State Senator Bill Dodd, 916-651-4003, and ask for no further amendments) forces for a reasonable policy will prevail over those who want to amend the law and throw more non-citizens under Trump’s bad hombres bus.
The following are selected quotes from the recent IOLERO report. These can all be read in context by clicking on the link above.
Sheriff’s policy less than transparent
“While the current practice of the Sheriff’s Office in cooperating with ICE is clear, its written policy has been somewhat confusing. In addition, the messaging from the Sheriff’s Office about
these policies and practices has been less than completely clear. This lack of clarity has created an environment where beliefs can develop and spread within the immigrant community that may not always be consistent with the actual practices and policies of the Sheriff’s Office, and may make it challenging to expect cooperation from community members.”
“In addition, the practice of the jail has been, and still is, to voluntarily comply with all ICE requests for notification of an inmate’s release date. However, the Sheriff’s Office has generally responded to questions about their immigration policies by stating that deputies have no interest in immigration status and do not hold any person in the jail on an ICE detainer. While true, these statements ignore the areas where the jail fully cooperates with ICE.”
“This disconnect between practice and policy, and lack of clarity about actual policy and practice, tends to accentuate lingering mistrust between undocumented immigrants and the Sheriff’s Office. This is particularly true when viewed against the backdrop of the inflammatory rhetoric coming from the Trump administration, which has generally described immigrants as violent criminals.”
Where’s the line for bad guys?
“The further question is what crimes should be considered to be within the definition of serious or violent felonies. The state already has given an answer to this policy question by defining these terms in the California Penal Code. California’s Proposition 36 was enacted by voters in 2012 to restrict the definition of a “third strike” in the state’s “Three Strikes Law” to a serious or violent felony. Under these definitions, a “serious felony” means any of the offenses listed in subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code and any offense committed in another state which, if committed in California, would be punishable as a serious felony as defined by subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code. “Violent felony” means any of the offenses listed in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code and any offense committed in another state which, if committed in California, would be punishable as a violent felony as defined by subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code.”
Justification called for to increase ICE dragnet
“… the California Sheriff’s Association disagreed with this conclusion in opposing the original TRUST Act, and insisted on a broader exception allowing cooperation with ICE detainers. While it may be justifiable to include additional crimes beyond these two statutory categories, the onus reasonably should be on those proposing such additional exceptions to demonstrate that other crimes present a sufficient threat to public safety to justify the deportation of an inmate. Should misdemeanors be proposed for the list of exceptions, an even greater burden of justification would be present, as misdemeanors inherently represent crimes considered less serious than felonies. IOLERO therefore further recommends that, should the Sheriff’s Office wish to include additional crimes, that it also provide an analysis justifying the inclusion of those crimes as exceptions to a general policy of non-cooperation with ICE.”
Access to D-File info
“With regard to the jail providing ICE agents with access to an inmate’s D-File, the Sheriff’s Office should employ the same standard. In order for ICE to gain such access, they should have to provide to the Sheriff’s Office proof that they are investigating a criminal violation that would constitute an offense equivalent to the categories of serious or violent felony described above.”
IOLERO recommendation in a nutshell
“The IOLERO issued a report recommending that the Sheriff’s Office further limit its cooperation with federal civil immigration enforcement, by changing its policies to prohibit cooperation with ICE, except where a non-citizen has been convicted within ten years of a designated serious or violent felony that evidences the individual’s risk to public safety in the County.”