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March 29, 2019

Are California's Police Departments Defying Its Sanctuary Law?
By Tanvi Misra

“The law does have an impact,” said Angela Chan, a policy director and senior staff attorney at the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (AAAJ-ALC), which co-authored the report with criminologist Peter Mancina. “It could have a greater impact if all law enforcement complied.” The authors wanted to examine SB 54 because it’s the most expansive law of this kind in the country, affecting over 350 local institutions—police departments, state law enforcement, school and university police departments, and sheriff’s offices. While federal officials encourage and rely on local jurisdictions to act as “force multipliers” in making immigration arrests, California’s law pushes these agencies in the opposite direction: It limits local and state institutions from using public funds to identify, arrest, detain, or transfer suspected undocumented immigrants. To assess the law’s impact, the authors reviewed ICE arrest data compiled by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). They found that total arrests at local jails in California decreased by 31 percent in first five months of 2018 when SB 54 went into effect, compared to the same period in 2017. This drop in jail arrests made up almost three-quarters of the total decline in ICE arrests in this period. In states such as Texas that have instead instituted anti-immigrant laws, these type of arrests went up in the same time period.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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