San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos announced today that, effective immediately, his office will no longer respond to any requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for notification of an inmate’s release or transfer any inmate to its custody. The about face follows a Nov. 3 meeting at which residents railed about such cooperation in the past.
“It has become apparent to me that complying with those requests regarding the pending release of undocumented individuals who have committed serious crimes is undermining the trust we need to protect the community," Bolanos said in a prepared statement. "It simply is not worth losing the trust of many members of the public by continuing to process these requests from ICE. Our policy is now consistent with other Bay Area counties."
Bolanos said he had heard from "hundreds" of local residents who wanted the sheriff to protect the public, not enforce federal immigration laws.
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office says it coordinated 15 transfers to ICE from the county jail. Most individuals convicted of serious felonies serve their sentences in state prison, not county jail. If ICE believes an individual poses a serious threat, it can always obtain a judicial warrant, which all law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area must honor.
Bolanos reiterated that he remains committed to public safety.
“I will continually evaluate any effects caused by this change in policy and, if necessary, consider adjustments,” Bolanos said.