Report: Numerous Jurisdictions Flout California Values Act

In 2017, the California State Legislature took sanctuary policies statewide with the passage of SB 54, or the California Values Act, which limits cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. But since it took effect in January 2018, a number of law enforcement agencies are skirting the law — either by exploiting loopholes in the language or by flat out refusing to enforce it.

A recent review by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and the University of Oxford Centre for Criminology in England looked at the impacts of California’s sanctuary law. The researchers found that it had already reduced immigrant arrests. Total local jail detentions were down by 31% in the first five months of 2018 compared with the previous year.

However, the report also found that 68 out of 169 local law enforcement agencies (40%) were not in compliance with SB 54. That suggests the law's impact would be even greater if more local jurisdictions were abiding by it.

“SB-54 is having an impact in reducing the number of people turned over to ICE, but the decrease could be higher if all law enforcement complied in good faith,” said the group’s senior staff attorney and project supervisor Angela Chan (Press-Enterprise). “There are a lot of sheriff’s and police departments throughout the state bending over backwards to assist ICE with deportations and trying to undermine SB-54.”

Some additional highlights from the report:

• San Diego sheriff’s deputies continue to ask detainees about their immigration status.

• Stanislaus County deputies are still holding detainees for ICE.

• The San Jose Police Department is still providing ICE agents with space inside their facilities.

• Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties are providing inmate release data to ICE and CBP by posting the information online — using a loophole to violate the spirit of SB 54. (Officials with these counties have taken issue with the report’s characterization of their activities.)

As California County News reported in September, Fresno has also received criticism for exploiting loopholes in the law

Read the full report, including a summary of the organization’s recommendations here