Los Angeles County Rethinks Deportation of Inmates

Ian Lovett, New York Times, September 23, 2015

Federal immigration officials, who had been banished from Los Angeles County jails earlier this year at a time when many cities here were working to protect immigrants from deportation, will be invited back in–with some limits–under a new a policy that will allow them to interview and identify some inmates for deportation.

The change may reflect a broader shift in California, which has been at the forefront of efforts to protect immigrants–even those convicted of minor crimes–from deportation. A 2013 state law called the Trust Act prohibits local governments from turning immigrants who have committed petty crimes over to federal immigration officials, a policy that was seen as a rebuke to the Obama administration’s deportation efforts. Major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have largely stopped cooperating with federal immigration officials in jails, and opposition in the state to the Secure Communities program–an Obama administration initiative that relied on local law enforcement to help with deportment efforts–contributed to that program’s end last year.

But sentiments have been shifting toward stricter enforcement, after two high-profile murders in the state this year for which illegal immigrants with criminal records face charges. {snip}

As recently as four months ago, the Los Angeles County government voted to end a plan that offered immigration officials a permanent place in its jails. But that will not end their presence in the jail system: Under the new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will be permitted to interview inmates who have committed serious crimes, as well as all inmates who are being processed for release. In addition, the sheriff’s department will give immigration officials a seven-day notice before some inmates are released.

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