Newly-enacted legislation in California has reversed course on nearly two decades of improved law enforcement collaboration, restricting communication between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. As the sheriff in Orange County, this deeply concerns me.
Senate Bill 54, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in October 2017, prevents sheriffs from directly sharing information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with respect to when they will release wanted, undocumented criminals from our jails. That includes known gang members, repeat drunk drivers, persons who assault peace officers, serial thieves, animal abusers, and other serious offenders. Additionally provisions of the law prevent the use of local staff to participate in initiatives like the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program.
One of the most important lessons learned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was the necessity of open communication between federal, state and local law enforcement on shared public safety threats. In the last 17 years, several reforms and programs have been put in place that provide opportunities for ongoing collaboration among law enforcement partners.