In a previous  immigration lawblog.com/2014/06/several-california-jails-will-no-longer-abide-immigration-holds.shtml”>post we discussed how jails in multiple counties in California were refusing to hold immigrants for federal authorities. Assembly Bill 4, which prohibits local law enforcement agencies from holding immigrants who are considered non-violent offenders, took effect in January of this year. With this new law, the number of immigrants turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents has dramatically decreased compared to years previous, with more jails refusing to abide by immigration hold requests.

In the past year, the number of undocumented immigrants to be transferred into federal custody reportedly dropped by 53 percent for areas in Northern California. The drop for the Los Angeles area was less, at approximately 15 percent, but this is still an improvement. On a national level, the number of immigrants turned over to federal authorities has also reportedly declined in the past year.

Not all California jails are up to speed with this new policy regarding immigration holds. Complaints are still being received about immigrants being erroneously transferred to ICE officials. Because of this, advocates for the bill are working hard to get all jails in the state on board with this immigration reform.

California lawmakers have taken several very important steps for immigration reform in the state this year. The ability for local police officers to refuse to turn in low-level offenders to ICE may seem like a minor step to some, but for undocumented residents, this reduces fear of deportation and allows families to remain together. For those who have been inappropriately turned over to ICE officials, legal assistance is available to help fight deportation and removal proceedings.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, “California law enforcement detaining fewer undocumented immigrants“, Jeremy B. White, Oct. 17, 2014