The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has refused more than 25,000 requests to surrender illegal immigrants detained in its jails to immigration agents in the 2020 fiscal year, Fox News reported.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has blocked the transfer of illegal immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to concerns over the conditions at ICE facilities and the possible impact on ongoing criminal investigations, Fox News reported.
“There is no greater threat to public safety than a million undocumented immigrants who are afraid to report crime, out of fear of deportation and having their families torn apart,” Villanueva said, Fox News reported.
NEW: L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the sheriff’s department will no longer transfer qualified inmates to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody https://t.co/4aDBLsVtI5
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) August 18, 2020
The 25,000 transfer requests were made during the 2020 fiscal year, according to ICE spokesman Alexx Pons, Fox News reported.
“As the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status. I will not allow an entire segment of the population to be afraid to report crimes to law enforcement and be forced, again, back into the shadows,” Villanueva added.
An ICE official disputed the sheriff’s claim that fear of deportation prevented people from reporting criminal activity. “As a federal law enforcement agency, ICE supports all individuals reporting crimes regardless of immigration status in the United States,” ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Executive Associate Henry Lucero said, Fox News reported.
“It’s very mind-boggling as a career law enforcement official that someone would implement this policy,” Lucero added, Fox News reported. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: New York Amends Green Light Law To Cooperate With Federal Law Enforcement On DMV Records)
The LA County Sheriff’s Department reportedly froze detainee transfers in April, citing the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities, Fox News reported. ICE will reportedly need to acquire a judicial warrant to transfer detainees into federal custody.
ICE did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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