On Friday the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department released records on two undocumented immigrants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Friday and was expected to turn over records on two more sometime next week, according to NBC7.
Robert Brewer, the U.S. attorney in San Diego, confirmed that the sheriff’s department complied with two subpoenas that were due this week and plans to turn over the information on two others.
The subpoenas were for jail records on four Mexican nationals who were arrested on charges ranging from sexual assault of a child, robbery and battery, to drug possession.
Each man, ranging from ages 28 to 42, was arrested within the past few months by the San Diego police for various suspected crimes. Two remain in county jail and two have been released, according to ICE.
One man was arrested in December 2019 by San Diego police, suspected of sexually abusing a child under 14 years old. ICE lodged an immigration detainer with the sheriff’s department, officials said.
The man has two DUI convictions both from 2009 and has been returned to Mexico on 11 occasions between 2009 and 2011. He remains in SDSO custody at the county jail, NBC 7 reported.
The San Diego sheriff’s department agreed this week to give ICE records of people who were criminally arrested with immigration authorities, thereby becoming the first local law enforcement agency in five states to comply with the unusual demands for information, authorities said.
In recent weeks, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had issued administrative subpoenas “signed by an immigration official, not a judge” to state and local law enforcement agencies in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and California, the Los Angeles Times reported.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore made the announcement late Thursday that his department would comply with the requests. The statement came less than a week after ICE issued four subpoenas to the department, the only ones so far in California.
The department is the first in all five states to comply with the requests, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.
The demands for information are among several recent moves by Trump administration officials against what it considers “sanctuary jurisdictions,” which adopt laws and policies to limit cooperation with immigration authorities, the Times reported.
“The passage of California Senate Bill 54, known as the California Values Act, limited the ability of the department to provide voluntary cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. Until now, DHS has only requested information from the sheriff’s department,” the Gore’s statement said.
“With the issuance of these subpoenas, DHS is using federal statutory authority to compel the sheriff’s department to provide certain records,” Gore said. “The statutory authority in the California Values Act contains no explicit language prohibiting or authorizing compliance with federal subpoenas. A federal subpoena creates a mandatory legal obligation and is not cooperation. The disobedience of a lawfully issued subpoena can be punishable by contempt of federal court.”
“I think I’m probably the first one in the state, I’m probably the test case and I see this probably spreading throughout the state,” Gore told NBC 7. “I think most people in San Diego County, when you look at those charges, say you know if we could deport this person once their local charges are done and get them out of the country this would be a better community if we could,” Gore continued. “So, they are not just being returned to the community and re-victimizing people.”
Monika Langarica, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, said the state law that the sheriff’s department cited, the California Values Act, clearly prohibits sharing non-public personal information with ICE, she told the Times.
Langarica said the department should require court-issued subpoenas. ICE’s issuance of subpoenas, and the sheriff’s potential compliance, endanger public safety and community trust, she said.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, declined to comment on the sheriff’s statement. Gore, a Republican, is elected to an officially nonpartisan position and the former head of the FBI’s San Diego office. He isn’t known to have strong opinions on immigration.
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