LA Sheriff: Fewer Crimes Spur Transfer to Immigration Agents

LOS ANGELES (AP) — THE new leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department on Friday further limited when inmates in Los Angeles County jails can be transferred to U.S. authorities for deportation.

The department has reduced the number of misdemeanor charges that can trigger an inmate’s transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation from 151 to 101, spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.

One example of a charge removed from the list is vandalism with prior convictions, she said.

Under its so-called sanctuary law, California already limits which crimes can trigger the transfer of someone held in a county jail to federal deportation agents. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department further reduced the list of misdemeanors that qualify.

The department also limited the timeframe for these convictions to three years from five, she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who won an upset election victory last year, previously said he would bar ICE agents from entering department facilities to conduct civil immigration matters.

That directive took effect this month, Nishida said. Previously, federal immigration agents would interview inmates suspected of being in the country illegally while they were still in jail.

Thomas P. Giles, acting field office director for ICE’s enforcement and removal operations in Los Angeles, said in a statement that the changes would encourage criminal activity by immigrants without legal status. He said agents would keep making arrests elsewhere in the community of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said she welcomed a reduction in the number of misdemeanor charges that can lead to deportation.

She said immigrants convicted of crimes already serve their sentences and the question is whether deportation is an appropriate enhancement for the offenses committed.

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(FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2018 file photo newly-elected Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva speaks during a swearing-in ceremony in Monterey Park, Calif. Villanueva will limit when inmates in the county’s jails can be transferred to federal authorities for deportation. Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, the agency will reduce the number of misdemeanor charges that can trigger an inmate’s transfer. She could not immediately say which misdemeanor charges would no longer qualify. AP Photo: Jae C. Hong)

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