ICE Director Threatens Neighborhood Sweeps, 'Collateral Arrests' After Brown Signs Sanctuary Bill

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement of waging retaliation against California for enshrining into law a bill that keeps local authorities from asking about a person’s immigration status during routine interactions and bans federal immigration officials from using local law enforcement.

Gov. Jerry Brown said in a signing statement that the California Values Act “does not prevent or prohibit” ICE “from doing their own work in any way.”

“They are free to use their own considerable resources to enforce federal immigration law in California,” he said. “…These are uncertain times for undocumented Californians and their families, and this bill strikes a balance that will protect public safety, while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day.”

In response to Brown signing SB 54, Acting ICE Director Tom Homan announced today that his department “will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community.”

“ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California,” Homan added. “Ultimately, SB54 helps shield removable aliens from immigration enforcement and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect.”

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) said ICE “is overstepping its authority in a clear act of retaliation by an administration intent on deporting as many people as it can.”

“Today’s announcement is the latest evidence of the nationwide anti-immigrant witch hunt the Trump administration is itching to launch,” she said. “It’s exactly why California passed SB54—to reassure innocent people that they can trust the police and don’t have to worry about being deported when they report a crime. Indiscriminate sweeps would destroy this trust and send people back into the shadows, to be victimized again.”

The House Homeland Security Committee member said she would be demanding “answers about this shameful attempt to intimidate my state.”

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) called “reprehensible” Homan’s “callous threat to indiscriminately target mothers, fathers, and people without criminal records.”

“This policy will do nothing to make our communities safer and instead will terrorize law abiding communities, disrupt family life, and harm the economy,” Gomez argued. “ICE has limited resources and should spend those resources wisely. Targeting families while they shop for groceries, drop kids off at school, or head to work is fiscally and morally bankrupt.”