Cal­i­for­nia sanc­tu­ar­ies break po­lice bonds

Bor­der Pa­trol agents fear for public safety

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Bor­der Pa­trol says it has been forced to re­lease a drunken driver back onto the streets and nearly missed out on nab­bing a fake UPS de­liv­ery van car­ry­ing 77 il­le­gal im­mi­grants — all be­cause Cal­i­for­nia’s sanc­tu­ary city laws have soured co­op­er­a­tion be­tween po­lice and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.

In the drunken-driv­ing case, a lo­cal po­lice de­part­ment said it couldn’t re­spond to agents who had pulled over the driver, since it be­gan as an im­mi­gra­tion stop. They said it would vi­o­late the state’s sanc­tu­ary law lim­it­ing their abil­ity to work with bor­der or in­te­rior agents, Rod­ney S. Scott, chief pa­trol agent of the Bor­der Pa­trol’s San Diego Sec­tor, told a fed­eral court.

In the other case, the 77 il­le­gal im­mi­grants were likely nabbed only be­cause an agent hap­pened to stop to help a high­way pa­trol of­fi­cer who had pulled over the fake truck, Mr. Scott said. He said the high­way pa­trol was salty that the Bor­der Pa­trol had even be­come in­volved.

Those were some of the de­tails to emerge Wed­nes­day as all sides be­gan to grap­ple with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s law­suit chal­leng­ing three of Cal­i­for­nia’s sanc­tu­ary laws.

U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions of­fi­cially an­nounced the move in a speech to Cal­i­for­nia law en­force­ment in Sacra­mento, say­ing the state’s poli­cies were akin to slave-hold­ing states at­tempt­ing to thwart fed­eral law be­fore the Civil War.

“There is no nul­li­fi­ca­tion. There is no se­ces­sion,” he said. “Fed­eral law is ‘ the supreme law of the land.’ I would in­vite any doubters to go to Get­tys­burg, to the tomb­stones of John C. Cal­houn and Abra­ham Lin­coln. This mat­ter has been set­tled.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed the state leg­is­la­tion last year, fired back by ques­tion­ing why a “fella from Alabama” would be talk­ing about se­ces­sion and say­ing Mr. Ses­sions was try­ing to in­gra­ti­ate him­self with Pres­i­dent Trump. He said Mr. Ses­sions should apol­o­gize for even fil­ing the law­suit.

“This is ba­si­cally go­ing to war against the state of Cal­i­for­nia,” said Mr. Brown, adding for good mea­sure that he ex­pects more of Mr. Trump’s “liars” to be snared by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

“This law­suit is go­ing to last a lot longer than the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said, at one point re­fer­ring to Mr. Trump as “Don­ald” and Mr. Ses­sions as “Jeff.”

Mr. Ses­sions is chal­leng­ing three state laws: SB54, AB103 and AB450. To­gether, they pro­hibit po­lice from ask­ing about im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus, pre­vent them from turn­ing over im­mi­grants to U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment or the Bor­der Pa­trol, or­der busi­nesses to refuse to co­op­er­ate with ICE, and task Cal­i­for­nia in­ves­ti­ga­tors with look­ing into the de­ten­tion of every il­le­gal im­mi­grant held in the state.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment says those state laws thwart na­tional im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, vi­o­lat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and fed­eral law.

Cal­i­for­nia coun­ters that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment can con­tinue to en­force laws but can’t com­man­deer help from lo­cal po­lice.

Agent Scott, in his sworn dec­la­ra­tion filed in the case, said the laws go well be­yond that to ac­tively ob­struct public safety and law en­force­ment.

In the drunken-driv­ing case, he said, his agents con­ducted a stop of a ve­hi­cle un­der their im­mi­gra­tion pow­ers. They found no im­mi­gra­tion prob­lems but said it was ob­vi­ous the driver was in­tox­i­cated. The agents called the lo­cal In­dio Po­lice De­part­ment, but of­fi­cers re­fused to re­spond “be­cause the ini­tial ve­hi­cle stop was im­mi­gra­tion-based.”

“Un­der those cir­cum­stances, Bor­der Pa­trol had no choice but to re­lease the in­tox­i­cated sub­ject to the public,” Mr. Scott said.

The Washington Times pro­vided In­dio po­lice with the doc­u­ments, but the de­part­ment didn’t re­spond.

Mr. Scott de­tailed an­other in­ci­dent in which El Ca­jon po­lice failed to re­spond as his agents called for help dur­ing a 20-mile high­way chase through their ju­ris­dic­tion.

“This dec­li­na­tion for as­sis­tance oc­curred even though it in­volved a ve­hi­cle that failed to yield, en­dan­ger­ing fed­eral law en­force­ment and the public while trav­el­ing on a Cal­i­for­nia in­ter­state and high­way within their ju­ris­dic­tion,” he said.

El Ca­jon po­lice didn’t re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

De­scrib­ing the third in­ci­dent, in­volv­ing the fake UPS truck, Mr. Scott said a Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cer had pulled over the ve­hi­cle for in­valid reg­is­tra­tion. It turned out the plates were cloned and the ve­hi­cle was en­gaged in im­mi­grant smug­gling.

A Bor­der Pa­trol agent pulled up to as­sist — a com­mon cour­tesy among law en­force­ment agents who see other of­fi­cers con­duct­ing solo stops — and was able to take con­trol of the im­mi­gra­tion case, ar­rest­ing the il­le­gal im­mi­grants and the driver.

But Mr. Scott said if his agent hadn’t been there, the high­way pa­trol of­fi­cer could have let the smug­gler and all 77 il­le­gal im­mi­grants go. The high­way pa­trol later com­plained about the stop, Mr. Scott said.

“Al­though the en­counter was the re­sult of an agent tak­ing ini­tia­tive and at­tempt­ing to en­sure the safety of a fel­low law en­force­ment of­fi­cer con­duct­ing a sin­gle of­fi­cer ve­hi­cle stop, it was seen as a neg­a­tive en­counter due to the pas­sage of SB 54,” Mr. Scott said.

The high­way pa­trol, pro­vided with Mr. Scott’s tes­ti­mony, told The Times that it would not com­ment on the in­ci­dent be­cause of the Ses­sions law­suit.

Mr. Scott said co­op­er­a­tion has soured in other ways. His agents are no longer re­leas­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants they catch to state and lo­cal po­lice to serve time for pre­vi­ous crimes be­cause they no longer have con­fi­dence that the peo­ple will be turned back over for de­por­ta­tion.

He said a sex of­fender, two drug of­fend­ers and one drunken driver avoided ad­di­tional jail time be­cause po­lice wouldn’t as­sure agents that they would get the con­victs back for de­por­ta­tion.

The prob­lems even af­fected il­le­gal im­mi­grants wanted in other states. Mr. Scott said one im­mi­grant was wanted in Iowa, and his agents in­tended to turn the per­son over to the San Diego Sher­iff’s De­part­ment for ex­tra­di­tion to Iowa.

But Cal­i­for­nia al­lows ex­tra­di­tion to be chal­lenged. Since the Bor­der Pa­trol couldn’t be sure of get­ting the man back from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in that case, it ended up de­port­ing him — deny­ing Iowa the chance to jail him.

Mr. Brown, at a press con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day, said he was un­aware of any of those in­stances and de­nied that the state laws were hin­der­ing public safety.

“That’s not true. We know the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is full of liars. They’ve pled guilty al­ready to the spe­cial coun­sel,” he said.

He said the state’s laws don’t thwart fed­eral agents, but en­sure state and lo­cal of­fi­cers and deputies aren’t com­pelled to help.

“Noth­ing stops the fed­eral gov­ern­ment from com­ing to a jail. The re­lease records are public. There’s noth­ing that stops a sher­iff who runs the jails to work­ing with ICE. There’s noth­ing in the law that pre­vents ICE from work­ing in our pris­ons, from work­ing in our de­part­ment of cor­rec­tions,” he said.


Gov. Jerry Brown (left), with state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra, said U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions “is ba­si­cally go­ing to war against the state of Cal­i­for­nia.”

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