Federal immigration agents are back in Los Angeles County jails to seek out deportable inmates under a new policy by Sheriff Jim McDonnell that has prompted criticism from immigrant advocates who say it could lead to racial profiling, reports the Los Angeles Times. The new policy, made public yesterday, comes after county lawmakers voted this year to end a controversial program that allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to work inside the jails to assess the immigration status of inmates. ICE agents are being allowed back inside, only to interview inmates who have committed serious crimes and are not protected by the California Trust Act. That 2013 law limits when local law enforcement officials can collaborate with federal immigration authorities.
Under the new policy, jail officials will notify ICE up to seven days before those inmates are released so immigration agents can pick them up and initiate deportation proceedings. The new procedures stand in contrast to those in San Francisco, where lawmakers have banned all sheriff collaboration with immigration officials except when federal authorities have a court order or a warrant. That city’s policies have been in the national spotlight since the July shooting death of a woman on a busy San Francisco pier, allegedly by a man in the country illegally who had recently been released from local custody. The incident sparked an outcry, with figures as varied as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for closer collaboration between local police and ICE. “It appears the 'Trump Effect' is now having an impact on Los Angeles County policy,” said Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, who said the new policy “appears politically motivated and impacted by sensationalized tragedy.”