California sheriff pushes back against sanctuary laws, tells department to cooperate with ICE

California sheriff pushes back against sanctuary laws, tells department to cooperate with ICE
The Orange County sheriff is pushing back against California's sanctuary laws. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Monday announced it would immediately begin providing public information on inmates’ release dates.

The move is an effort to “enhance communication” between the department and other law enforcement to help get dangerous offenders off the street. It will use an existing database, “Who’s in Jail,” to provide the additional information, according to a news release.

Orange County leadership opposes Senate Bill 54, California’s new sanctuary law, which limits local and county law officials cooperation with federal law officials. The release date information applies to all inmates, not just illegal immigrants.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said in the release that SB 54 hinders collaborative efforts to remove criminals from the community and she had instructed her staff to respond to Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests.

“SB 54 makes local law enforcement’s job more difficult and requires bureaucratic processes that could allow dangerous individuals to fall through the cracks of our justice system,” Hutchens said in the release. “My department, however, remains committed to cooperating fully with federal authorities in all areas where I have discretion to remove serious criminals from our community.”

In addition to the sheriff’s directive to staff, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to join the federal lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

What do opposers say?

State Senate leader Kevin de León (D), who authored SB 54, warned against law enforcement departments joining the move against sanctuary laws.

“Pushing a racist and anti-immigrant agenda devoid of facts or supporting legal analysis is a pretty sad use of taxpayer resources, especially when it could result in crippling legal costs for cities that rush to join this dead-end effort,” De León wrote in a statement.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he would not rule out taking action against those who go against the laws.

“State law is state law. It’s my job to enforce state law and I will do so. We want to make sure that every jurisdiction, including Orange County, understands what state law requires of the people and the subdivisions of the state of California,” Becerra said Tuesday at a news conference.

What else?

In Orange County, 168 inmates were released to ICE custody from Jan. 1 to March 19.

And some cities in the county, such as Yorba Linda, Buena Park, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo, are also starting to move against SB 54.

Last week, the Los Alamitos City Council voted 4 to 1 to exempt itself from the state law.