Sonoma County Walks Back New ICE Policy

On May 1, Sonoma County’s sheriff announced that his office would no longer be cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on all requests for inmate release notification. Going forward, sheriff’s officials would only be accommodating such requests from ICE when there were Trust Act violations or 18 specific felonies or misdemeanors such as DUIs and indecent exposure.

Fast forward nearly 100 days and the controversial policy has still not been implemented. The delay, officials say, is a result of the recent departure of County Sheriff Steve Freitas, the costs associated with the policy change, and Senate Bill 54 -- the state’s so-called “sanctuary state” bill -- which is currently winding its way through the Legislature.

“With SB 54 looming we don’t want to have to change our policy just to change it again a month later,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum.

Clearly, this is an issue that still needs to be worked out among Sonoma County officials and their new acting sheriff Rob Giordano. Until then, the county is still honoring every single ICE request.

That does not sit well with immigration advocates.

“My main concern is that a statement was made and for the last three months nothing has changed,” said Bernice Espinoza, a deputy public defender and criminal immigration specialist. “This lack of clarity is creating a lot of fear.”



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