ICE Threatens to Terrorize California Immigrants in Retaliation for Sanctuary Law

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law on Thursday turning the entire state into a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants. This means that virtually no authorities in all of California are allowed to cooperate with federal immigration agents seeking to locate undocumented people.


On Friday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s acting director, Thomas Homan, responded to California’s new status by claiming that not only would the law endanger ordinary residents, but that ICE would now be forced to arrest innocent people as a result.

Here’s Homan’s full statement (emphasis mine):

Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB54 and make California a sanctuary state for illegal aliens – including those who have committed crimes – will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission. The governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.

SB54 will negatively impact ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state, voiding the delegated authority that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has under the 287g program, and prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.

ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community. ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.

Ultimately, SB54 helps shield removable aliens from immigration enforcement and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect.

Despite the severe challenges that this law creates for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all sheriffs and local elected officials. This misguided legislation will severely undermine those efforts.

Homan—who has previously insisted that every single undocumented immigrant should “look over your shoulder” and “be worried”—appears to be promising overt retaliation against California’s entire immigrant population, criminal or not, as a result of the new law. Not only should undocumented immigrant communities expect “collateral” (read: random) arrests, but ICE will also be shipping detainees out of state.

The threat seems clear: California passed a law which ICE doesn’t like, so the agency will be taking its frustration out on innocent people as a result.

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.