Forum reveals TRUTH about undocumented and crime

Tulare County residents are four times more likely to be victimized by a legal resident than an illegal one, according to information shared during the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds (TRUTH) Act forum

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County residents are four times more likely to be victimized by a legal resident than an undocumented one.

Those numbers are based on information shared by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department with the Board of Supervisors during its Sept. 29 meeting. CAO Jason Britt presented the Supervisors with information on the number of requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold undocumented inmates at county jails during the county’s annual TRUTH Act forum. Held in compliance with the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds (TRUTH) Act signed into law in 2016, the Sheriff’s Department reported ICE requested detainers on 424 of the 21,062 bookings in 2019. Of those 424 inmates, ICE only took custody of 51 people upon release. The rest included 109 inmates who did not meet the legal requirements for the Sheriff to allow ICE access, 231 who were released from county facilities and 33 inmates were still in custody pending trial or serving their sentences at the end of 2019. The 33 inmates were in custody on charges ranging from murder, serious sex offenses and other serious crimes.

Under the California Values Act of 2017, a companion law to the TRUTH Act, law enforcement agencies are not required to provide information to ICE unless they have been convicted of a serious or violent felony, a felony associated with a prison sentence, or misdemeanor or felonies in the following categories: child/elder abuse, hate crimes, burglary/robbery, theft, fraud/embezzlement, bribery, obstruction of justice, DUI, evading law enforcement, kidnapping, weapons possession, drug sales, human trafficking/false imprisonment, stalking, anyone registered as a sex offender. Law enforcement officers are also prohibited from arresting someone on their immigration status alone and are not allowed to ask a person’s immigration status under the law.

Since 2017, the first year the information was compiled, ICE holds have been requested on 928 of the nearly 59,000 inmates booked into Tulare County jails, or about 1.5% of all bookings. Only 490 met the legal requirements for turning information over to ICE and just 163 were released into ICE’s custody over the three-year period.

There are between 37,000 and 48,000 undocumented immigrants in Tulare County, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s 2013 estimate and the Migration Policy Institute’s analysis of the 2016 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Given the more conservative estimate, between 0.6 and 1.1% of the undocumented population are arrested each year compared with between 4 and 4.5% of the population that are legalized citizens.

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