Sacramento, CA – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the sanctuary state of California have begun denying local and state law enforcement officials’ requests to extradite illegal immigrants with active felony warrants and pending charges.
Their refusal to turn over the fugitives due to the fact that the offenders will not be returned to CBP custody, San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott said, according to recently filed court documents.
Chief Scott’s statements were included in the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against the State of California, Governor Jerry Brown, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, which was filed in U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of California on Mar. 6.
The exhibit outlined several instances during which illegal immigrants arrested by Border Patrol agents were found to have active warrants and/or pending criminal charges within the state of California.
“In each instance, the Border Patrol Agent determined it was not appropriate, consistent with his or her federal responsibilities to ensure the enforcement of immigration law, to release a criminal alien to the state and local law enforcement,” Chief Scott explained.
He noted a suspect that they had arrested with an outstanding felony warrant for sexual assault. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department refused to offer assurances that they would return the suspect when they were done with him.
“Therefore, the criminal alien remained in DHS custody," Chief Scott noted.
He cited an occasion when agents, “relying on a long history of cooperation” with Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, turned over an alien who had an active probation violation warrant in Ventura County.
“Ventura County rescinded their intent to extradite the individual,” Chief Scott recounted. “ Imperial County subsequently released the alien without notifying Border Patrol that he was pending release or that he was released.”
He noted that in January, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department agreed to notify Border Patrol agents when an illegal immigrant was being released from their custody, so the agency opted to turn the offender over to county law enforcement to face the local charges.
On that occasion, the San Diego County followed through with their agreement, and the offender was returned to Border Patrol custody.
“That being said, we have ongoing concerns that SDSD is engaging in this cooperation in a way that likely cannot be squared with the text of SB 54, and have significant ongoing concerns with relying on this kind of informal cooperation in the face of SB 54,” Chief Scott said.
California’s sanctuary state laws have also impacted Border Patrol’s ability to assist other states.
He cited another occasion in January, during which an agent learned that an illegal immigrant that had been arrested was also wanted in the state of Iowa.
Officials in Iowa confirmed that they wanted to extradite the suspect to face charges. They said that they would honor Border Patrol’s detainer and notification requests regarding the offender. They also agreed to pay for all expenses associated with the extradition.
“However, I understand that state extradition legal procedures in California allow an individual to refuse or contest the extradition.” Chief Scott explained. “Thus, if the alien were turned over to California law enforcement, even though the underlying warrant was in Iowa, the alien could still be released from California custody during the extradition process.”
“Given the significant risk that an alien with a significant felony arrest warrant from another state who was unlawfully present in the United States would simply be released into the country, Border Patrol declined to permit SDSD to take custody,” he said.
The lawsuit was the first to be filed against a local or state government over the issue of immigration, The New York Times reported.
Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont have also adopted sanctuary state laws, as have individual counties and cities in over twelve states.