THE FEAR IS GANGS LIKE MS-13 WILL
HAVE A SAFE HARBOR IN CALIFORNIA
California’s sheriffs are calling on the GOP-controlled Congress to intervene and pass a federal law to change the state’s sanctuary state status, warning the law that ties their hands too tightly will only increase the chances of another high-profile tragedy.
The sanctuary state law, which Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) signed Thursday but doesn’t go into effect until January, is the most far-reaching of its kind in the country and places sharp limits on how local law enforcement agencies can communicate with federal immigration authorities.
It would also make it a crime to enforce federal immigration laws on the premises of all schools, hospitals, libraries, and courthouses in state, which is home to an estimated two million immigrants.
Making the entire state a sanctuary for illegal immigrants is California’s latest salvo in its war with President Donald Trump over immigration policy, but law enforcement officials say it’s the state’s citizens who will pay the price with higher crime rates and avoidable tragedies.
National Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson said Thursday that sheriffs across the country are deeply “saddened and disappointed” that the governor signed this “reckless” bill into law.
“It is unfortunate that California’s law enforcement has become pawns in this political game, but they will continue to do their jobs diligently to protect their communities,” he said
“We also implore leaders in Washington to take action and pass sensible legislation that would prevent careless legislation from hamstringing law enforcement and would give them the tools to combat dangerous policies like this.”
Most of the state’s sheriffs argue that the law limits their ability to remove dangerous, repeat offenders from their communities.
They remain concerned despite late changes that Gov. Brown helped negotiate that would grant police the ability to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of violent felon’s police have taken into custody.
Sheriffs said the law would prevent police from notifying ICE of self-admitted members of MS-13 or other gangs if they were arrested for misdemeanor crimes such as assault and battery, possession of narcotics, being under the influence of narcotics, or driving without a license.
“If a gang member is arrested or charged with misdemeanor or a felony that is not covered by the law, we would be precluded from contacting ICE,” California State Sherrifs’ Associate President Bill Brown told the Washington Free Beacon.
“My concern is that, statewide, we’re going to have this issue—that you end up with a known gang member in custody for a particular crime that is not covered and we wouldn’t be able to make that notification.”
Police also worry that the law is too light on illegal immigrants who have been arrested for drunk driving. Police can only call federal immigration authorities if they arrest an illegal immigrant with a violent felony on his or her record. In California, a person must be convicted four times in a decade for it to be considered a felony, law enforcement sources said.
They have repeatedly predicted that the law will open the door to another high-profile tragedy similar to Kathryn “Kate” Steinle’s death in 2015 at the hand of an illegal immigrant who had been deported a total of five times.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to stop other cities and states from following California’s lead.
“The State of California has now codified a commitment to returning criminal aliens back onto our streets, which undermines public safety, national security, and law enforcement,” said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley.