Board Votes to Uphold its Policies on Civil Detainers, Notification

Action Updates Ordinance Language but Makes No Significant Changes

Affirming Santa Clara County’s duty to protect the due process rights of all residents regardless of immigration status, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to keep intact its Civil Detainer and Notification policies regarding requests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

The vote, discussion and hours of public testimony that came on Tuesday, June 4, was a response to a call from Supervisor Dave Cortese in April for the County Counsel and Administration to examine the County’s policies and return in 60 days with recommendations for improvements.

After a thorough examination of the current policies, practices in other counties, federal and state laws and ICE’s history of racial profiling, and input from stakeholders, the recommendation from the County Counsel and the County Executive was that the Board should not establish a new notification policy and to continue to refuse to detain anyone beyond a release date unless presented with a judicial warrant.

“We’ve been steadfast in our commitment to refuse cooperation with ICE’s unlawful civil detainer requests and in notifying ICE of releases from custody,” said Cortese. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a look at whether the language in our ordinance is still appropriate and that it is still in line with County policies. This exhaustive analysis by our County Counsel and administration gives us documentation that our policies do uphold due process rights and strive to keep our communities safe.”

By law, the county and city laws enforcement are not allowed to keep a released inmate in custody if ICE does not have a judicial warrant for that person. Law enforcement can, however, notify federal authorities of the releases of those who have been convicted of serious or violent felonies and are threats to community safety. The County and other agencies also share information with ICE through the FBI database and other public information portals.

Most people who spoke to the Board expressed concerns over the fear that proposed changes in policies had ignited in immigrant communities, making them hesitant report a crime to police, send their children to school or apply for assistance programs.

While not approving significant changes, the Board vote, did update language in Policy 3.54, the Civil Detainer Policy, to remove a section that required ICE to agree to pay for any cost related to the detention of a person for immigration purposes by ICE’s requests. ICE never agreed to cover those costs, and the County continued to reject its detention requests without judicial warrants.

The vote on Tuesday was the third time the policy, which was enacted in 2011, had been reviewed and upheld by the Board. The issues emerged most recently after the tragic murder of Bambi Larson, a San Jose resident, allegedly by an undocumented, mentally ill inmate who was released from custody.

For more information on the Board action, click here for the reports on this issue or to \watch Tuesday’s meeting. You may reach Supervisor Cortese’s office at 408-299-5030.

Media ContactJanice Rombeck​, Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese,  (408) 299-5030; (408) 803-2095 (cell)​.

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