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Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart, Contrary to Assurances, Collaborates with ICE

by Sanctuary Santa Cruz
Evidence given to Sanctuary activists proves that Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart has been collaborating on “immigration-only” enforcement by ICE. Hart refuses to change the County Jail’s policies, which are voluntary.
At a meeting between representatives of the Santa Cruz chapter of ACLU of Northern California; Sanctuary Santa Cruz; Peace United Church of Christ and the Public Defender’s Office on April 19th, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart was presented evidence of the ongoing arrangement whereby the Sheriff’s Office notifies ICE of release dates of arrested but non-convicted undocumented locals.

The evidence of Jail-ICE collaboration was made available to Sanctuary Santa Cruz because of the TRUTH Act, signed into law by Jerry Brown in September 2016 and enforced beginning January 1, bringing transparency to local law enforcement relationship with ICE. The Truth Act places restrictions on ICE access to individuals in custody and ensures that if local law enforcement notifies ICE of an individual’s release date and time, that the agency must also notify the individual and their attorney.

Several of such notifications were made available to Sanctuary Santa Cruz, documenting Jail notification to ICE of imminent release dates of individuals, even one whose misdemeanor violation was so minimal that they were released from Jail on their own recognizance, not yet arraigned. ICE was notified of the release time and detained that individual, who is now awaiting immigration court hearing in San Francisco.

Reports of such Jail-ICE cooperation are now dribbling in. When confronted with this evidence Hart confirmed the Jail policy of cooperation and, at the first meeting, agreed to consider the information presented to him about other jurisdictions who refused to cooperate with ICE.

At a meeting on May 10th, however, Hart said that he would not change Santa Cruz Jail policy.

Hart has claimed publicly that the Sheriff’s Office and Jails do not assist in immigration enforcement in any way. However, Sanctuary Santa Cruz and other local activists consider that Sheriff Hart’s voluntary sharing of release dates IS assisting in immigration enforcement.

Hart has been considered an exemplary leader of the local law enforcement community and has just become the first law enforcement official to endorse SB54, the state Sanctuary Bill.

“Words are not enough,” comments Ernestina Saldana, lead coordinator of Sanctuary Santa Cruz, “It’s time for Hart to put his actions with his words. There’s no reason for him to cooperate in advance. There’s no reason to make it easier for ICE to deport people. He has a lot of reasons to make it easier for the community to feel safe and keep their families together,” said Ernestina Saldana, lead coordinator of Sanctuary Santa Cruz.
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