Soapbox

Lawmakers should butt out of immigration enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents take a person into custody during a 2014 sweep in Ontario.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents take a person into custody during a 2014 sweep in Ontario. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP

State legislators should not be attempting to change how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security executes its mission. But that’s exactly what they’re considering.

Senate Bill 1289 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, would significantly interfere with how local governments partner with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security officials.

These federal agencies work regularly with agencies like mine to help keep our communities safe and at times provide space to house detainees.

The federal government commonly enters into agreements with sheriffs and some cities to provide secure detention facilities that meet a variety of standards, policies and procedures and are audited by oversight agencies and on-site ICE monitors.

SB 1289 will put those agreements at risk, and in some cases may even make it impossible for the federal government to utilize these contracts.

The bill will open up local governments to thousands of new lawsuits from detainees. If the bill is enacted, the responsibility for housing federal immigration detainees would likely be outsourced to facilities in other states. This would put further stress on budgets that are already at their breaking points.

Moving detainees out of state would also be a disservice to their families, who want to be in contact with their loved ones while they are in custody.

SB 1289 is a bad idea. Overseeing homeland security and immigration are fundamental responsibilities of the federal government, and it isn’t an easy task. Instead of tying the hands of federal agencies, we need to continue to work with them.

Donny Youngblood is sheriff of Kern County and president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. He can be contacted at Youngblood@KernSheriff.com.

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