U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers gear up in this image on Wikipedia dated from 2004.

published on March 20, 2018 - 8:32 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has released an update on its ongoing partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that posts federal agents in the county jail.

Since 2015, ICE agents have taken custody of about 500 people booked into Fresno County Jail who were suspected of being in the country illegally. That is out of a total of about 82,000 total bookings at the jail in that period.

Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff public information officer, said some of those taken into custody by ICE were deported, while others – depending on the individual case –  appeared in immigration court.

“So you can see it is a very precise process of where ICE is zeroing in on only those they are truly interested in,” Botti said.

Botti said ICE agents have the same access to the jail and its records as other policing agencies, which allows Fresno County corrections staff and police “a separation that allows our deputies and correctional officers to not be concerned with a person’s immigration status.”

ICE agents will check an inmate’s status to determine if they should make contact, though the passage of SB 54 – the so-called “Sanctuary State” law – bars ICE agents from making contact with inmates booked for “certain” crimes, Botti said.

SB 54 generally limits how much information local law enforcement can share with federal agents regarding immigration enforcement, though people can be transferred to immigration authorities if they have been convicted within 15 years of any of a list of 800 crimes, including serious and violent crimes.

Fresno County’s partnership with ICE at the jail has proven a controversial subject for immigration rights activists over the years. And the new Sanctuary State law, which took effect in January, has intensified the scrutiny.

In December, the Monterey County Sheriff announced it would no longer allow access to ICE agents a desk at the jail

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