LOS ANGELES — The acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lashed out Oct. 6 at California’s newly signed “sanctuary state” law, saying it will lead to federal raids “in local neighborhoods and at worksites,” but the Los Angeles legislator who introduced the bill called the comments a “heavy-handed threat.”
“The Trump administration is once again making heavy-handed threats against California because we won’t help them tear apart families and our economy in the process,” said state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. “The acting ICE director’s inaccurate statement exemplifies the fear-mongering and lies that guide this administration.”
ICE Acting Director Tom Homan issued a statement saying Senate Bill 54 — officially known as the California Values Act — “will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission.”
He said the law will effectively eliminate most cooperation and communication between his agency and local law enforcement in California, and prohibit local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.
“ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community,” Homan said. “ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.”
Homan said the law provides a shield for deportable illegal immigrants “and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect.”
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, called Homan’s remarks a “callous threat,” saying that carrying out neighborhood raids would only “terrorize law-abiding communities, disrupt family life and harm the economy.”
“ICE has limited resources and should spend those resources wisely,” he said. “Targeting families while they shop for groceries, drop kids off at school or head to work is fiscally and morally bankrupt.”
In signing the bill Oct. 5, Gov. Jerry Brown said, “This bill states that local authorities will not ask about immigration status during routine interactions. It also bans unconstitutional detainer requests and prohibits the commandeering of local officials to do the work of immigration agents.”
But Brown also stressed what the bill “does not do.”
“This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way,” he said. “They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California. Moreover, the bill does not prohibit sheriffs from granting immigration authorities access to California jails to conduct routine interviews, nor does it prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offenses listed in the TRUST Act.
“These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day,” he said.