California is now a sanctuary state, even if county jail officials wish it wasn’t.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

In Monterey County last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 29 suspected undocumented immigrants, 28 from Mexico and one from El Salvador, out and about in the community, at their homes or on the street. Over the same time period, they made 391 arrests at the Monterey County Jail. That’s according to data obtained by the Weekly via a U.S. Freedom of Information Act request to ICE.

Those numbers are likely to change when California’s sanctuary state law, SB 54, takes effect on Jan. 1. A reasonable person would expect the total number to decline, but ICE Acting Director Tom Homan issued a statement to say that instead of hanging around jails, ICE agents will instead go everywhere else: “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,” Homan said.

It could undermine the very purpose of SB 54, which is meant to make California communities safer, to bring immigrants into the fold, to empower them to report crimes and not hide from law enforcement.