Riverside County Lawmaker seeks to end California’s ‘Sanctuary State’ policies

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NORCO, CA — An Inland Empire lawmaker Wednesday said he will submit legislation seeking to end California’s “sanctuary state” protections for any illegal immigrant offender who has committed sexual offenses against minors.

Assemblyman Bill Essayli, R-Norco, said he was incensed by a recent announcement from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement that a Colombian national whom it had sought to take into custody from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department earlier this year was released without any notification provided to the federal agency.

In response, Essayli said he will revamp proposed legislation he had submitted in February, Assembly Bill 2641, which originally related to reports on gubernatorial commutations, and insert provisions requiring local law enforcement agencies to comply with ICE detainers when they’re connected to illegal immigrant sex offenders.

“It is completely unacceptable that California law currently requires local law enforcement to protect illegal immigrant pedophiles from deportation under our ‘sanctuary state’ policy,” Essayli said. “I am amending AB 2641 to correct this gross injustice.”

The former federal prosecutor and second-generation American emphasized that he was “raised to love our country and respect the law,” and California’s provisions to accommodate undocumented individuals with sex crime records were incompatible with his tenets as a resident and citizen.

“Anyone here in this country illegally who dares commit a sex crime against a minor must be prosecuted and deported expeditiously. This is common sense,” Essayli said.

The San Bernardino County case involved an unnamed 23-year-old “Colombian non-citizen” who was convicted of statutory rape and oral copulation of a minor, according to ICE.

He was sentenced to four years in state prison in December 2022 but ended up at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where federal immigration officers tracked him down and requested “advance notification of the Colombian sex offender’s release,” according to an ICE statement.

“San Bernardino County refused to honor ICE’s request and released the sex offender from California state custody,” the agency stated.

The man was located and arrested by ICE agents last week and is in federal custody pending deportation proceedings in Massachusetts.

ICE submits detainers to law enforcement agencies throughout the country, seeking 48-hour holds on undocumented offenders beyond the period they might otherwise be released from a local correctional facility, giving federal agents time to arrange pickups “for removal purposes.”

In California, local agencies have not been required to honor ICE holds since 2014.

The year prior, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 4, authored by former Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, effectively prohibiting local and state law enforcement agencies from honoring ICE detainers.

Two years later, then-Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, the current state attorney general, authored a bill that Brown also signed, AB 2792, which limited when and to what extent local authorities are permitted to communicate with federal agents regarding illegal immigrant offenders in jails. In some instances, the bill permits redactions of an inmate’s’ “personal identifying information” if the party is a foreign national.

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials told City News Service shortly after the bill took effect that the general practice of the agency was not to facilitate direct transfers of illegal immigrant offenders from county to federal custody, but only to attempt to alert ICE agents a couple of hours in advance of an inmate’s pending release — if immigration officials had requested notification beforehand.

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