The Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California began this week to publicly post the date and time that inmates will be released in an explicit attempt to make it easier for federal authorities to catch immigrants.
The department is publicly posting the release dates along with the inmate’s name, a detailed description of the individual, and the “housing location” for both men and women in custody.
The detailed profiles are being published in the county’s existing “Who’s in Jail” online database. Users can visit the database and search for a specific inmate or just browse through an alphabetical list of names.
This type of database exists in other places (the state of New York, for instance), but the sheriff’s decision to publish the additional information is an explicit response to California’s new statewide “sanctuary” law. The law, SB-54, prohibits local law enforcement agencies from cooperate with federal immigration agencies. A growing group of Orange County elected officials are fighting it.
“This is in response to SB-54 limiting our ability to communicate with federal authorities and our concern that criminals are being released to the street when there’s another avenue to safeguard the community by handing them over (to ICE for potential deportation),” Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said, according to the Orange County Register.
The sheriff seems to be testing loopholes in SB-54. While the law prohibits cooperation between local and federal agencies, it “does not limit information that is available to the public,” the department said in a press release.
In that same press release, the sheriff’s department acknowledged that SB-54 allows local law enforcement agencies to work with ICE officials when a “serious offender” is being released. “From Jan. 1 to March 19, 168 inmates who fall within this provision have been released to ICE custody,” the press release noted.
In reality, though the department is putting inmates at risk just so that ICE can target all immigrants more easily.