Earlier this year, under President Trump’s aggressive immigration policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began keeping a watchful eye on people coming in and out of courthouses, seizing an opportunity to detain immigrants for possible deportation. ICE argued that courthouses made for a safe area to detain suspected illegal immigrants because the security measures at courts help remove the possibility of an armed confrontation.
In March, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly asking their departments to cease the “stalking [of] undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”
In her letter, she made the argument that the threat of deportation prevents witnesses and victims of crimes from coming forward, which makes the communities in which they live less safe.
California lawmakers took their cue from Justice Cantil-Sakauye, and have begun to implement laws that protect immigrants who come forward to report crimes or to assist in the investigation or prosecution of a crime.
Protecting Immigrants from State Police Action
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a law that will prevent authorities from arresting victims of crime and those serving as witnesses solely due to suspected immigration violations.
The law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Prior to the new law, police were prohibited from making such arrests when a suspected undocumented immigrant reported or assisted with the investigation of a hate crime. The new law expands that protection to all crimes.
The hope is that these protections will encourage more cooperation with law enforcement, thereby improving public safety by ensuring crimes against immigrants are prosecuted.
Protection from Federal Law Enforcement
While the state cannot prevent enforcement of federal laws by ICE, it can control the level of cooperation of its own officers and agencies in assisting ICE.
Currently, the California legislature is also considering Senate Bill 54, which would “prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.”
The bill has passed the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee and will next head to the Assembly for a final vote.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love has been unlawfully detained for a crime or due to their immigration status, you should exercise your right to remain silent and speak to an experienced attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled lawyers have been successfully defending the rights of our clients for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.