Villanueva issues permanent ban on ICE transfers

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Tuesday deputies would no longer be transferring inmates to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Near the beginning of the pandemic, Villanueva had made the decision to put a temporary hold on the transfer of individuals being held on a civil immigration detainer.

The order issued Tuesday made it permanent throughout L.A. County, citing that having a population of 1 million undocumented immigrants afraid to come forward and report crime leads to unsafe communities.

“As the sheriff of Los Angeles County, I am responsible for everyone’s public safety, regardless of immigration status,” Villanueva wrote in his open letter to the public. “I will not allow an entire segment of the population to be afraid to report crimes to law enforcement and be forced, again into the shadows.”

Villanueva added the decision was in part due to reports out of the Adelanto/ICE detention facility about poor conditions for inmates and detained individuals.

The sheriff also added that the permanent ban came after the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grant that “essentially sold our undocumented inmate database information for federal funds.”

“This morally indefensible program netted $122 million for Los Angeles County from 2005 to 2018, at the expense of our immigrant community,” Villanueva said in the letter.

The sheriff encouraged ICE to use a warrant system, like other law enforcement agencies, and LASD would continue to work to ensure those criminals who fled to other countries to avoid prosecution will return and stand trial.

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