Amid the revelation that more than 36,000 illegal immigrants were released onto U.S. soil by government officials in 2013, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California recently announced that it will no longer hold illegal immigrants in jail.
According to a report by CBS San Francisco, Capt. Colby Staysa released a memo last week stating that the Sheriff’s Office will no longer accept immigration detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
By doing this, the office will seemingly violate a 2009 ICE policy. The rule prompts local law enforcement to hold individuals accused of entering the U.S. illegally while they wait to be transferred to federal agents for processing and possible deportation.
Several other sheriff’s offices have reportedly made announcements similar to Alameda County’s during recent moths.
CBS reported that ICE has not responded directly to such memos.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement, however, that the federal agency “will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout California as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities through the identification and removal of convicted criminals and others who are public safety threats.”
An April U.S. District Court ruling in Oregon apparently prompted ICE to shift its policies, stating that detainer requests are “not mandatory.” According to CBS, ICE may be transitioning towards leniency as the agency stopped using the word “required” in 2010 when referring to detainer requests.
Several activist groups claim the recent announcement by Alameda County is a victory for all immigrants.
The Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights coalition reportedly said in a statement, “Today is a victorious day for immigrant communities and the values of due process and equality under the law in this country. We call for continued dialogue so that we can ultimately end all entanglement between our local law enforcement and ICE’s cruel deportation machinery.”
Alejandro Caceres, Executive Director of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, told Breitbart Texas that when local law enforcement is used as “an arm for ICE,” it causes the immigrant community to become distrusting and afraid of local officials.
“If you have a percent of [your] community who does trust law enforcement, that’s a problem for everyone,” Cacerees said.
But not everyone believes that leniency for illegal immigrants is beneficial.
Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, said the U.S. should not reward illegal immigrants by allowing them to stay. This could encourage others to commit the same crime.
“The security of the nation and its people come first,” Taylor told Breitbart Texas. “We need to tell illegal immigrants not to enter the country with our actions, not our words.”
Taylor concluded, “Why are we talking about what’s good for illegal immigrants who broke our laws instead of talking about what’s good for American citizens?”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.