Local Jails Might Limit Immigration Holds For Felony Convicts Only

Gov. Jerry Brown recently met with leaders from the California State Sheriffs’ Association to discuss ways to give city police and county sheriff’s departments discretion on immigration enforcement. In 2013, many of California’s local jails might limit federal immigration “holds” to detainees with felony convictions, greatly reducing the number of people deported solely for entering the country without permission.

California Penal Code 834b requires that law enforcement cooperate with federal agents “regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Fingerprint data collected from county jails is used to determine a detainee’s residency status. Immigration and Customs Enforcement place holds on those who are found to be in the country illegally. Federal officials claim that the effort is necessary to identify and deport illegal aliens who are dangerous criminals.

Unfortunately, many of those ensnared in this effort do not have a past criminal history. A study by California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office found that 28 percent of people deported from local jails had no conviction on their records. College students who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children and arrested for minor offenses potentially face deportation.

Brown is working on legislation to amend Penal Code 834b. This month, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced that his agency would no longer honor immigration holds on low-level offenders. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck took the same step in October. Other counties have refused to incarcerate detainees beyond the standard hold time, which is based only on their current criminal charges, not immigration status.


An arrest can have serious consequences, particularly if you are not a U.S. citizen. Consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately to preserve your rights and liberty, and for advice about the potential immigration consequences of a conviction. The Law Offices of John D. Lueck has been aggressively defending individuals against felony and misdemeanor charges in Southern California for more than 35 years. If you have been accused of a crime, contact Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer John D. Lueck today for a free consultation.


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