By Michael Volpe
Prisons in Santa Clara County, Calif., are saying no to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and it’s leading to some embarrassing high profile incidents, including the arrests by federal agents of 63 illegal immigrants shortly after the county set them free.
As part of an ordinance passed last November, ICE agents are barred from all Santa Clara County prison facilities.
WND previously was told by a Santa Clara County official that there have been no high-profile embarrassing incidents as a result of the ordinance.
But federal officials are reporting ICE agents arrested 63 people – all with ICE detainers that had been ignored by Santa Clara County – in just one recent raid.
The San Jose Mercury News recently described the federal agency’s snub of county plans, saying, “In an apparent end-around Santa Clara County’s new immigration policy, federal agents [swept] into the South Bay last week, arrested 63 undocumented residents recently released from jail and now are seeking to deport them.”
The report said, “The action comes two months after the county enacted a sweeping policy to reduce its role in aiding the federal deportation effort, and provoked outrage among community activists.”
Among those detained in the raids, ICE released the descriptions of four especially bad players, including:
“A Mexican national convicted earlier this year of felony possession of heroin for sale who was sentenced to six months in prison.”
“A 49-year-old male Mexican national convicted in 2011 of child molestation.”
“A 29-year-old male Mexican national with prior convictions for kidnapping and cocaine possession.”
“A 48-year-old woman from Mexico with 13 aliases who has prior felony convictions for forgery and misuse of an entry document. Having been removed from the United States five times, she now faces federal prosecution for felony re-entry after deportation.”
It was in November of 2011 when the Santa Clara County Board passed a plan that largely mirrored legislation passed in Cook County, Ill. Ostensibly, the legislation ended each county’s cooperation with the process of ICE detainers.
ICE detainers are holds, up to two business days, that ICE places on municipal inmates. In the fine print of each piece of legislation is also language which spells out how the county will bar ICE agents from county prisons.
In Santa Clara’s ordinance, the pertinent language states: “Except as otherwise required by this policy or unless ICE agents have a criminal warrant, or county officials have a legitimate law enforcement purpose that is not related to the enforcement of immigration laws, ICE AGENTS SHALL NOT BE GIVE ACCESS TO INDIVIDUALS OR BE ALLOWED TO USE COUNTY FACILITIES FOR INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWS OR OTHER PURPOSES, and county personnel shall not expend county time or resources responding to ICE inquires or communicating with ICE regarding individuals’ incarceration status or release dates.”
In the Cook County ordinance, the pertinent portion states, “ICE agents shall not be given access to individuals or allowed to use county facilities for investigative interviews or other purposes.”
Jessica Vaughn is an immigration policy and law analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies.
“It’s very rare,” said Jessica Vaughn of county jails barring ICE agents, “Unfortunately, it exists in places where there are a lot of criminal illegal aliens.”
Besides Santa Clara and Cook County, Vaughn said that New York City also has a history of being unhelpful to ICE.
WND recently highlighted the case of Saul Chavez in Cook County as an example of the dangers of such radical immigration policy. Chavez was first arrested for a driving under the influence incident in 2008. During that incident, he blurted out that he was in the country illegally, but no local law enforcement ever reported that to ICE, and he was released. In June of 2011, he allegedly ran over and killed a pedestrian, Denny McCann, also while drunk.
Later an ICE detainer was ignored, and Chavez was allowed to leave jail. He hasn’t been heard from since.
Greta Hansen, lead deputy county counsel for Santa Clara County, earlier had told WND, “I understand that you also requested information regarding any high-profile incidents involving individuals who were released or bailed out as a result of the county’s policy. We know of no such incidents.”
While the Department of Justice has sued the states of Arizona and South Carolina over immigration policies which were tough on suspected illegal immigrants, it has filed nothing in the cases of Cook County and Santa Clara.
The DOJ didn’t return a phone call from WND for comment.
WND earlier reported that there is a proposal for statewide legislation in California to curb participation with federal law enforcement.
When last year Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York issued an executive order effectively ending cooperation between jails in the state and ICE, it didn’t take long before an embarrassment to arise.
There, it was Luis Rodriguez Flamenco, 24. According to police reports, Flamenco allegedly stabbed to death 45-year-old Kathleen Byham outside a Wal-Mart in Albion, N.Y., last November. Flamenco, in the U.S. illegally, was out on bail for an unrelated burglary charge at the time of the arrest. According to ICE, ICE put a detainer on Flamenco at the time of his burglary arrest. Because of the new executive order, that detainer was ignored and Flamenco was released after he posted bail for the burglary charge.