SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Just as California’s new sanctuary state status went into effect, mock signs were posted at the state border.
“Official Sanctuary State. Felons, Illegals and MS13 Welcome! Democrats Need The Votes!” reads the fake sign, which was posted right below the official “Welcome to California” sign.
KPIX 5 political reporter Melissa Caen explains the new law and how it prompted the prank.
Generally, California’s new law means that law enforcement in the state are banned from holding prisoners until ICE can come and get them.
When ICE sends detainer requests, they have to be ignored.
But before we get into what the law does, let’s talk about what it does not do.
First, it does not change the power of arrest warrants. Warrants signed by a judge have to be honored. It doesn’t matter if a person is documented or not, law enforcement still has to follow judge’s orders.
Second, ICE will continue to see who is arrested. During the booking process, people are fingerprinted, and those fingerprints go to the FBI which sends them to ICE. So, ICE knows who is taken into custody and where.
That has not changed.
So, when can local law enforcement still talk to ICE?
Here, what matters most is a person’s criminal record.
If they’re arrested and a background check shows a conviction for any one of the hundreds of offenses listed in the law, including many serious felonies — rape, murder, robbery — then law enforcement can notify ICE about the person’s release date and when the day comes, they can transfer that person into ICE custody.
Not all crimes are created equal here, some convictions have to have been within the past 5 or 15 years. The more serious crimes don’t have a time limit.
This overall list of crimes is very long, but the California Sheriff’s Association says it’s not enough. They wrote in a statement, “…repeat drunk drivers, persons who assault peace officers, serial thieves, animal abusers, known gang members and other serious offenders…” are not on the list.
So people convicted of those crimes are effectively going to be shielded from ICE.
For people who don’t have a criminal history – if a judge says that there’s probable cause to believe they committed a serious or violent crime (and that’s a shorter, specific list) – then law enforcement can notify ICE when that person is being released so ICE can be there to take them into custody.
An effort to repeal this new sanctuary law started last year.