Capitol Alert

ICE director plans more neighborhood arrests after California’s ‘sanctuary state’ bill

The Trump administration’s immigration chief warned Friday that his agents will be making more arrests in California neighborhoods and workplaces because Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “sanctuary state” law.

Tom Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Brown’s decision to sign Senate Bill 54, which offers more protections for unauthorized immigrants, undermines public safety and hinders his department from performing its federally mandated mission, adding that “the governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.”

SB 54 “will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community,” Homan warned.

His statement underscores the stakes of the state’s resistance to Donald Trump – given the millions of unauthorized immigrants who live here and have been given assurances of protection by Brown and Democratic leaders.

California officials have warned federal immigration officials to stay out of courtrooms and state government offices. At a first-of-its-kind immigration forum in March, Sacramento protesters booed and heckled Homan, leading the acting ICE head to tell the roiling crowd that, “We don’t conduct neighborhood sweeps. We don’t do it.” “If you think ICE officers don’t have a heart, you don’t get it,” Homan added at the time.

Brown, the state’s Democratic governor, said Thursday he believes SB 54 strikes a balance between protecting public safety and bringing a measure of comfort to the families now living in fear of deportation.

“This bill does not prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security from doing their own work in any way,” Brown wrote in his signing statement. “They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California.”

Brown added that the bill by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León does not prohibit sheriffs from granting immigration authorities access to California jails to conduct routine interviews. Nor does it prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offenses listed in the TRUST Act, he wrote.

De León, speaking at a rally for the bill Thursday in Los Angeles, also acknowledged it would not stop ICE from “trolling our streets,” or provide “full” sanctuary for unauthorized immigrants.

“The Trump administration is once again making heavy-handed threats against California because we won’t help them tear apart families and our economy in the process,” de León said in a statement Friday responding to Homan. “The acting ICE director’s inaccurate statement exemplifies the fear-mongering and lies that guide this administration.”

Homan argued that SB 54 would hurt ICE operations by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with law enforcement partners in the state, voiding the delegated authority of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.

Referring to another bill Brown signed, Senate Bill 29, which restricts the ability to contract with ICE for detention facilities, Homan said, “ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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