As L.A. City Hall and the LAPD lean further and further left on immigration policy — following in the footsteps of the DREAMy, Latino-friendly state Legislature — the L.A. County Sheriff has yanked even harder to the right.
Compared to his liberal peers, “Teflon” Sheriff Lee Baca is turning into SoCal's own Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Chris Newman, legal director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, notes that Arpaio “wasn't always anti-immigrant. He really kind of metastasized into the monster he became. And there are sort of ominous warning signs…”
“… that Sheriff Baca is undergoing the same metamorphosis.”
Warning sign No. 1: His creepy obsession with upholding Secure Communities, a cross-enforcement deportation program that allows local cops/deputies to call up ICE anytime a suspected illegal immigrant passes through the station. Baca argues that public safety will be compromised if his deputies can't utilize ICE intel. (Yet curiously, he refuses to release local data on who, exactly, is getting deported through this program. Newman's organization is suing him for the statistics.)
Because the federal government isn't letting anyone opt out of the program, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) took it upon himself to write the TRUST Act, a bill that would…
… prohibit a law enforcement official, as defined, from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from criminal custody… .
The bill has passed through both the state Senate and Assembly and is currently sitting on Governor Brown's desk, just waiting for that final signature.
So, in one final act of desperation, Baca wrote an angry letter directly to Assemblyman Ammiano last month — an apparent attempt to convince the politician to pull AB 1081, though likely more of a political move to woo the state's anti-immigrant voters. (Who are super starved for a fearless leader like Baca.)
Predictably, Ammiano forwarded the letter onto immigrants rights groups, who whipped out a red pen and totally raged on it.
Newman calls the letter “bizarre” and says it is “based on pretty profound misunderstandings of the law. This is not the kind of thing you'd expect from the sheriff of the largest county of America.”
Ammiano's office confirms that he received the letter, and says he agrees with the critique of it.