LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Tuesday announced that the sheriff’s department would permanently ban the transfer of qualified inmates to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
“There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart,” Villanueva said in a statement. “As the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status.”
Villanueva said he initially ordered a moratorium on the transfers from the nation’s largest jail system to ICE in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but said after learning of the pending litigation regarding the conditions in the Adelanto/ICE detention facility and allegations of similar conditions at other facilities, the moratorium was made permanent.
“We will no longer transfer individuals to the custody of ICE based solely on a civil immigration detainer,” he said. “In so doing, we have created a bright line between federal immigration enforcement and local law enforcement in the most populous county in the nation.”
According to Villanueva, the permanent ban was preceded by his “categorial rejection of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grant that essentially sold our undocumented inmate data base information for federal funds.”
Villanueva said the department would encourage ICE to use the “constitutionally sound” judicial warrant system to effect legal transfers.
“The Sheriff’s Department will also continue its work with the District Attorney’s Office by providing the required assurances requested by ICE to ensure that those who have fled to other countries to avoid prosecution will return and stand trial,” he said. “Violent criminals who prey on our law-abiding communities should be held fully accountable.”