TRUTH forum reveals ICE requests are thawing

Federal immigration officers are requesting less, receiving less when it comes to holding undocumented inmates in county jails

VISALIA – The number of requests from federal immigration officials to hold undocumented inmates in the county jail appear to have dwindled from requests in prior years.

During the Tulare County Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 27 meeting, county administrative officer Jason Britt revealed 2021’s statistics on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the county’s jails. Counties law enforcement arms are mandated to record these holes per the TRUTH Act – which stands for Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds that took effect in 2018.

According to Britt, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office reported that ICE requested detainers for 157 of the 19,794 bookings in 2021. From the 157 requested, only 25 individuals were turned over to ICE after their release from jail. Of the remaining 132 that were not released to ICE, 67 of the requests were not recognized by Tulare County Sheriff’s Officials. The other 65 were recognized, as they met the legal requirements for ICE to take custody, but 53 of them were released. The remaining 12 inmates were still in custody awaiting trial or case disposition for charges ranging from murder, serious sex offenses or other serious crimes. Although the number of bookings has risen from last year’s numbers, the number of requests from ICE has dropped drastically.

The TRUTH Act was signed into law by former Governor Jerry Brown in 2016. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and requires California legislative bodies to hold at least one public community forum where they provide information about ICE’s access to individuals as well as receive and consider public comment.

Under the California Values Act of 2017, which serves as 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 type of felony. This could be 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, under law, are not allowed to ask a person’s immigration status.

In Tulare County, there are an estimated 39,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the 2019 data result from an Migration Policy Institute analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data from the conjoined 2015-19 American Community Survey and 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation. Additionally, the results are weighted by 2019 unauthorized immigrant population estimates given by Jennifer Van Hook, professor of sociology and demography and a research associate of the Population Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University.

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