Robert Salonga, Mercury News, August 28, 2019
A well-funded conservative watchdog group is suing Santa Clara County over its sanctuary policy, which forbids the county’s jails from holding inmates for immigration agents without a criminal warrant.
The lawsuit, announced Wednesday, was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court last week by D.C.-based Judicial Watch on behalf of Santa Clara County resident Howard A. Myers. The suit seeks an injunction against the policy, which came under national scrutiny following the slaying of San Jose resident Bambi Larson in February.
Police say Larson was stabbed in her home by Carlos Arevalo Carranza, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who had been arrested multiple times on drug, burglary and other charges but never held in custody for immigration authorities.
San Jose police arrested Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza, 24, on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing death of Bambi Larson.
Critics contend the killing could have been prevented had local authorities listened to ICE, which asked Santa Clara County six times to detain Arevalo Carranza past his release date so it could intercept him. The county’s top law-enforcement officials have called for the county to change its no-notification policy.
After Larson’s death, a huge public discussion ensued in national media and in the supervisors’ chambers. It pitted immigrant and civil-rights advocates fearful of local police becoming de facto immigration agents against law-enforcement leaders and groups who said the policies prevented authorities from taking dangerous criminals off the street.
Ultimately, the supervisors decided to keep the sanctuary policy in place, saying that local authorities cannot readily or independently verify the immigration status of inmates, and that ICE has proved unreliable, in some cases arresting U.S. citizens.
But state law does allow local law enforcement to notify ICE of inmates’ release dates if they have committed serious or violent felonies or felonies punishable by state prison. Santa Clara County’s policy, like San Francisco’s, is stricter than the state standard.