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.