Santa Clara County supervisors voted to explore revising the sanctuary police that prevents local law enforcement from sharing information about detained undocumented immigrants with federal immigration officials.

Mike Colgan/KCBS Radio

Sanctuary Policy Could Be Undone In Santa Clara County

Mike Colgan
April 09, 2019 - 2:34 pm

SAN JOSE — The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is considering making changes to its sanctuary policy after an undocumented immigrant was arrested in connection with the murder of a San Jose woman.

Board members voted 4 to 1 on Tuesday to explore revising the policy in ways that will let law enforcement notify federal immigration officials when undocumented immigrants with violent records are being released from custody. Hundreds of people attended the meeting, an unusually large turnout for the session. 

The issue took center stage after Bambi Larson, 59, was fatally stabbed in her home in San Jose on February 28, 2019. The suspect, 24-year-old Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza is an undocumented immigrant with a long criminal history, according to police. He is facing charges of first-degree murder and two special circumstances of burglary and mayhem.

Following his arrest, a group of 11 law enforcement officials in the county signed a letter urging board members to revise the current sanctuary policy. They are asking the board to bring the county’s policy in line with SB 54, also known as the California Values Act, which outlined a set of standards for when local law enforcement can notify federal immigration officials that an undocumented immigrant is in custody or about to be released.

Current county policy is stricter than SB 54 and prohibits local law enforcement from responding to notification requests from ICE or transferring detainees to ICE custody. But under the CA Values Act, law enforcement can notify immigration authorities when detainees are in custody or about to be released depending on their criminal history.

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Immigrant advocates turned out in force on Tuesday to protest the proposed changes. “This issue that happened last month is a tragedy, no doubt,” said Jeremy Barousse with SIREN — Services, Immigration Rights and Education Network. “But we don’t want to politicize this issue. We want to create a community that’s safe for everyone.”

Advocates argue that if local officials begin collaborating with ICE, it will erode law enforcement’s relationship with the immigrant community.

“Our county has been a national leader over the years in standing up for immigrants,” said Barousse. “We know the trust that could be deteriorated if immigrant communities know that there are some collaboration with county law enforcement and ICE.”

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen was one of the law enforcement officials who signed the letter, and believes there is room to create a more balanced policy.

“What we’re looking to advocate for is a policy which says those that have committed serious crimes, felonies, are people that we would notify federal immigration authorities of when they’re going to be released," Rosen said. 

The next step for the board is to gather input from the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, SJPD, the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association, ICE and the Office of Immigrant Relations to draft new standards.