On Tuesday, California Attorney General, Kamala Harris said that federal detention requests are not mandatory in nature and it rests upon concerned local law enforcement authorities who may voluntarily enforce such requests where they deem fit.
The announcement from Harris came after a bill was introduced in the state legislature seeking to limit local authorities from honouring federal detention orders unless the order was in the case of an individual with convictions of serious crimes like drug trafficking, or child abuse, or selling weapons.
Harris wrote, “Several local law enforcement agencies appear to treat immigration detainers, sometimes called ‘ICE holds,’ as mandatory orders. But immigration detainers are not compulsory. Instead, they are merely requests enforceable at the discretion of the agency holding the individual arrestee.”
However, earlier in September, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown had vetoed a similar bill holding the legislation to be flawed, as it also sought to exempt those who had committed serious crimes. Harris’s opinion on the issue was welcomed by activists who are also pressing for passing of the revised bill on the matter.
Chris Newman, one of the sponsors of the new bill said, “It simply makes no sense for California to comply with voluntary requests and to fill jails with peaceful immigrants at state expense, in order to fuel a broken, unjust federal deportation system.”