Bill to Stop ICE Arrests at State Courts Awaits Governor’s Signature

ICE 2A bill with the potential to worsen California’s already-frosty relationship with the Trump administration passed the Legislature on a near-party-line vote in late August and was presented to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature last week.

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Senate Bill 349, by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (pictured), D-Bell Gardens, is a direct response to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s embrace of the tactic of detaining unauthorized immigrants when they come to state courthouses to deal with matters in the California criminal justice system.

Exact statistics are not provided by ICE on its detentions. But there have been regular reports of ICE raids at state courts and their parking lots in California – especially in the Fresno area – as well as in Arizona, Texas and Colorado within the last year.

ICE officials issued a formal notice in January of their intent to go after targeted individuals when they have scheduled appearances in state courts. Some have said they moved to adopt new policies after the California Legislature adopted and Gov. Brown signed “sanctuary state” legislation last year limiting state cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Lara’s bill would specify that state court officials have the authority to block activities that interfere with the proceedings and operations at state courts. It would require federal immigration agents to have a warrant before they can enter schools, courthouses and state buildings to arrest or question people. It would ban civil arrests in courthouses and authorize the state Attorney General’s Office to pursue civil claims against individuals who violated SB349’s provisions.

The legislative aides who wrote the analysis of the bill cited historical evidence that the practice of not picking up people at courthouses for offenses unrelated to their visits – known as “the common law privilege for civil arrests” – goes back hundreds of years and far predates any controversy over illegal immigration.

Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have been joined in their sharp criticism of ICE’s tactics by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. In a statement issued last month, she blasted arrests at state courts as “disruptive, shortsighted, and counterproductive … . It is damaging to community safety and disrespects the state court system.”

Some sheriffs want more cooperation with feds

Nonetheless, conservative sheriffs in some counties who oppose “sanctuary” policies are supportive of ICE’s aggressive tactics, according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims is openly looking for ways to increase her department’s cooperation with ICE in spite of the state law.

That suggests that even if Lara’s bill is signed by Brown, some police agencies may be far less enthusiastic about enforcing it than others. Court battles over what exactly “sanctuary”-style laws compel these agencies to do seem likely.

At issue is the scope of the generally accepted doctrine that the federal government cannot compel state law enforcement agents to enforce federal regulations and that state laws prevail unless they directly conflict with federal laws.

Historically, conservatives in the post-Reagan era and Southern Democrats in the 1950s and 1960s have had more of a “states’ rights” approach to interpreting this doctrine, while liberals have leaned more toward the idea that the federal government deserves deference in gray areas open to different interpretations.

In the Golden State, these political roles have been swapped in the Trump era.

While sharply critical of the Trump White House on many immigration issues, Brown has not commented specifically on Lara’s bill. He has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto it and the hundreds of other passed bills he has not yet made a decision on.

Lara is the Democratic candidate for state insurance commissioner on the November ballot. He is running against Steve Poizner, who is now an independent after serving as insurance commissioner from 2007-2011 as a Republican.

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  1. STUPID ADD DEMOCRATES..PASS all the bills you want, the FEDS CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT…Who is going to stop the fed from doing this? It is time for Trump to send in the national guard and arrest these SCUMBAGS..

  2. The Commie/Dems are sure upset at the prospect of losing votes from the illegals in Calif using up taxpayer dollars.

  3. Can’t wait to see which CA official will be the first to be cuffed and booked for Interfering with a Federal Official In The Performance of his Duties.

    • Animal Lover says

      GAD – the list of potentials is LONG!!!!! What a bunch of total losers!!! I don’t understand how Californians could have allowed this much illegal and unlawful activity!!!

  4. Obstruction of Federal law by Democrats? The difference here is Calif. does not have Fort Sumter. As the Democrats continue their obvious intent to destroy the Constitution and rule of law the middle class get shafted by Dem. policies.

    The abomination called Democrats are fast forwarding to a Civil War.

  5. Wow! The idiots are running CA and it’s amazing how much more idiotic they become with every new day.

  6. Simply put, Gov Brown is a treasonous criminal!
    Not servant of the People nor their friend, it is all about Gerry.
    Typical Democrat, deceitful, liar, and a self centered narcissist.

  7. Trump should cut off CA Federal funding, even defying court orders until immigration enforcement issues are “resolved”.

    I’m sick of CA acting like its own country.

  8. George Griffith says

    May I reverse the judge’s comment as follows: ““disruptive, shortsighted, and counterproductive … . It is damaging to community safety and disrespects federal law.” All to make her feel better in using her efforts to protect illegal aliens from the laws designed to protect the legal residents of the U.S. Why are diseases that were eliminated in the U.S. now returning in the legal population? Where are previously unknown to the U.S. diseases coming from? How many killed by MS13 and there being given cover by the state? How much more dangerous for ICE agents to arrest an illegal alien in the general public area than when they are in a court where weapons are usually prevented from being brought in? Talk about short-sighted and lacking in common sense is what this is all about. Illegal aliens need to be removed to their home countries and if they desire to be part of the U.S. to come in by the legal route provided to them.

  9. Jerry checked out some time ago but he will be out of office soon. Maybe we ought to be worrying about Gavin Newsom. Brown is a red herring at this point.

  10. Can’t leave this state soon enough.

  11. I wonder what part of HIGH TREASON the Fed does not understand ? This is ANOTHER CRIMINAL ACT OF TREASON by California Demoncraps and Rino Republicans. This is not a civil matter to be adjudicated in a higher court it is a criminal offence against the United States of America.
    The lack of reaction from the Fed makes me believe even more , that my suspicions are correct that what is happening in California is a prelude to what is going to happen the the rest of the USA. and is in fact sanctioned by the Fed and California is a ” test ” state to see what it takes to make the people start a civil war against these freedom hating , white bashing , shit stirring traitors.

  12. Yes very stupid on behalf of the disgusting and traitorous jerry brown. I am glad they are moving on this great abuse of our rights. There is no freedom if criminals of Mexico get what ever they want. When will the National Guard move in and make arrests?

  13. Democratic IDIOTS think we are stupid enough to turn our State into a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY SO THEY CAN GET VOTES !

  14. I think it is high time for the federal courts to declare California government “insubordinate” to Constitutional law.

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