Kern County Sheriff a Defiant California Maverick on Immigration

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2015

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood was hiking along the bluffs overlooking Bakersfield last year when he got a call from Gov. Jerry Brown.

“What are you trying to do to me?” the sheriff said Brown asked him.

“What are you trying to do to me?” Youngblood shot back.

A Republican in one of the reddest counties in the state, Youngblood had riled the Democratic governor when he announced that his department would defy the Trust Act, a law signed by Brown that restricts cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents.

The sheriff said the law put him in an impossible position, stuck between a federal program that relies on local jails to hold inmates who might be deportable and a state law that says inmates in jail for low-level crimes can’t be detained past their release dates.

That kind of stance has won him enemies in California’s immigrant-rights movement and frequent comparisons to Joe Arpaio, the brash Arizona sheriff notorious for his workplace raids and ID checks.

Donny Youngblood

Donny Youngblood

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He lives in the same modest suburban neighborhood where he grew up, on Bakersfield’s now heavily Latino Eastside, and bristles at accusations that his policies encourage racial profiling, pointing out that a third of his deputies are Latino.

As he drove through town on a recent morning, past oil derricks, gated golf courses and strip malls lined with Mexican restaurants and carnicerias, Youngblood outlined his philosophy on immigration.

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