Torrance “Sanctuary Policy” Remains in Effect Despite Trump Executive Order

Assistant City Attorney Patrick Sullivan recently refuted the notion, raised by frequent council critic Mark Stephenson, that Torrance is a de facto “Sanctuary City.” Stephenson had based his claim on a Police Department Training Bulletin dated July 22, 2014 that instructed local police officers and jail staff not to hold individuals on ICE detainers.

In Sullivan’s explanation provided via e-mail, he noted that the Police Bulletin in question pertaining to holds for ICE detainers was updated in December of 2016. A public records request seeking that document revealed that the same instruction to not hold individuals on ICE detainers remains unchanged in the updated policy. The only revision made to the policy was the instruction for jail staff “to notify ICE of an inmate’s upcoming date and time of release.”

According to the Washington Post, “When an individual is booked in jail his or her fingerprints are taken and sent to the FBI, which sends the inmates’ information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If ICE finds that the inmate is undocumented, it submits a detainer request to the jail. ICE typically asks jails to hold inmates an extra 48 hours after they would otherwise be released so they can get a warrant to begin deportation proceedings.”

Sullivan’s e-mail also stated that the City of Torrance is not in violation of a recent Executive Order issued by President Trump (Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States dated January 25, 2017).  According to Sullivan, that Executive Order defined sanctuary jurisdictions as those that “willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which basically requires communication between local law enforcement and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”

Sullivan’s interpretation of the Executive Order is questionable, however; as the Order does not limit enforcement action to compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373, but actually broadens it by providing that, “The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.”

The Executive Order also threatened to withhold federal funds from any jurisdiction deemed not in compliance and instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”

Based on that language, it would appear that Torrance’s policy of not honoring ICE detainer requests is in direct conflict with the President’s Executive Order which states as its purpose the following:

Interior enforcement of our Nation’s immigration laws is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly so for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.

Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.



  • I just spoke to one of the city councilmembers–and he is telling me that the City of Torrance is NOT a sanctuary city. What is going on?!

    • Guest

      Council doesn’t even know the real meaning of sanctuary city, and they just spit out what they hear from staff. None of them has gone out to do research on the claim.

    • Anonymous

      Hahaha…this is gold! Get to work Arthur. Your home town is a Sanctuary city and your Councilmembers don’t even know what it is lol. But Cudahy is corrupt right :p

  • Brian Hitchcock

    What’s going on is that everyone has their own idea of what “sanctuary city” means. If you’re in favor of Trump’s crackdown, anything short of doing the ICE’s job for them looks like defiance of federal law. If you think that local police should focus on enforcing local laws, and let ICE do the enforcing of federal immigration law, then any cooperation between the two can look like collaboration, if not collusion.

    There is a lot of confusion as to what a Detainer Request is, and what it means. What it clearly is not, is a warrant. What that means is that a LE agency is not obligated to comply with it. Whether this is stated as policy or not, it is a fact. So a police department has a choice to make: side with the anti-immigrant Trump rhetoric, as stated in the rhetorical “purpose” (preamble) of the Executive Orders (both of which are stayed pending further judicial review)—or recognize that a letter from ICE, requesting the police department to detain a person in custody on ICE’s behalf has no more force of law than a letter from you or me would have.

    Obviously, Mr Stephenson is entitled to his opinion, as is Mr. Trump, but neither of them seem to have a knowledge of, let alone a respect for, the actual law and precedent in these matter. Mr. Sullivan, however, does.

    But although he is a lawyer, Mr. Sullivan is not a specialist in this area of the law. The real experts on this are the ACLU. I advise you to seek further elucidation from them.

    • Here is what I want and expect from my police department.

      If they come across an illegal alien during the course of exercising their duties, they should notify the federal government and honor any requests made by them.

      Does this happen in Torrance?

      • Guest

        Wow, what a novel idea🙂

      • If they encountered an illegal alien, I would expect them to notify the Air Force.

        As for undocumented immigrants: I wouldn’t expect TPD to ask ME to prove that I’m a citizen (I probably could not prove that I was born in the US, although I was), and I wouldn’t expect them to ask YOU to prove you’re a citizen (I’m guessing that you might be in the same boat), so I wouldn’t expect them to ask ANYONE ELSE to prove they’re a citizen. Sounds fair to me. And the courts agree, that’s why they struck down “show me your papers” provisions in Arizona. And how else would one determine that they had “come across an illegal alien”?

        Of course, if they find we have any outstanding warrants, or if they have probable cause to believe that we have committed a crime, they can haul us in, detain us, and charge us with a crime. And once they detain us, they might notify ICE that they have detained us. And ICE might ask TPD to detain us longer than is normally (that is, legally) allowed. As a favor. But ICE requests are not warrants, and they are often issued for people who are not being charged with being here illegally. There is no requirement that they be honored, they hold no more legal weight than a a letter from me to TPD asking them to detain YOU longer, so that I could come and pick you up at my convenience and TPD’s expense.

        What you are asking for is racial profiling, which is illegal according to many court precedents. Still, it happens in some unenlightened corners of this nation.

        Interestingly enough, the chief of TPD was put on suspension earlier this year, based on alleged racist remarks.
        Hopefully, you won’t have that problem at your place of employment.

        • And now Chief Matsuda has announced that he is resigning. So it’s a pretty good bet the next chief will be especially careful to avoid the appearance of racism, and to be fair. And to not overstep his bounds or be overzealous in pursuit of non-white Torrance residents for any reason, immigration-related or not. I certainly hope so.

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