The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has released over half the people U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requested since California’s “sanctuary state” law took effect in January.
ICE requested that the San Diego Sheriff’s Department hold 605 incarcerated individuals in the first four-and-a-half months of 2018, a department spokeswoman told the San Diego Union-Tribune. The department released 349 of those individuals without contacting ICE.
For the two years prior to the sanctuary state law going into effect, ICE had picked up 87 percent of the individuals they had requested be held, according to the report.
Under the new law, known as SB 54 or the “California Values Act,” law enforcement officials in California are barred from cooperating with federal immigration officials. That means prison officials are prohibited from telling ICE when prisoners will be released unless they fall into categories specified under SB 54.
ICE arrests in California are down 25 percent in 2018 from the fourth quarter of 2017. The Tribune cited ICE data that showed a decrease from 4,642 to 6,214, compared to a two percent increase in arrests across the nation as a whole.
Among the 349 released individuals were those facing charges for violent crimes, including misdemeanor spousal battery, the Sheriff’s Department told the Tribune. Misdemeanor domestic violence, DUI, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication were reportedly the most common offenses among detainees.
Many California cities and counties are joining a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit opposing three of the state’s sanctuary laws, including SB 54.
Not long after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the lawsuit in early March, for example, the city council members of Orange County city Los Alamitos voted to reject sanctuary laws and join the DOJ lawsuit. The move started a domino effect of cities and counties, largely in Southern California, voting to join the lawsuit as well.
Last week, the city council of northern San Diego County city Carlsbad became the most recent to join others in rejecting California’s sanctuary state laws.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana