The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office allowed federal deportation officers to enter the jail it operates and interview four inmates this month in violation of the agency’s pro-immigrant sanctuary policies, officials said.
The interviews occurred March 7 and 8, around the time that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers visited San Francisco County Jail and interviewed an inmate there in a breach of the city’s sanctuary rules, which restrict local cooperation in deportation efforts.
That incident prompted an apology from San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy. But while the recent ICE forays into the jails expose the growing tension between federal immigration authorities and many California leaders, the content of the interviews — and the potential consequences to the inmates — remains unknown.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, in a statement to The Chronicle, said members of her staff “mistakenly” let ICE officers into the jail. After learning of the incident, she said, the office “reevaluated and strengthened the clearance procedures in which all law enforcement agencies are permitted to enter our facilities.”
This incident raises some interesting Tenth Amendment issues, which are of course in the news almost daily. We all know that immigration is within the provenance of the feds and not a state matter. But what this actually means, in terms of the broad range between cooperation and obstruction, largely depends on who you ask. Just a few days ago, our fascist-in-chief recurred to his usual mode of spewing bile from his seeping id, Twitter, to complain that "something should be done" about Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf, who warned her constituents about an upcoming ICE raid (most of whom, by ICE spokesperson's own admission, were peaceful Oakland residents with no records--he was asked to lie about this and resigned his position as a consequence.) Whether what Ms. Schaaf did amounts to obstruction is debatable: our xenophobic administration would claim that it does, I would claim that it does not.
But what about the Santa Clara jail? On a subsequent ICE visit, the federal agents were denied entry into the jails, a corrective move corresponding to the Sheriff's statement that their entry was a "mistake." In times of darkness, uniformed goons depend on their uniforms and badges to scare people, and that can include local authorities, into submission. This should be an object lesson for every Sheriff in California.