Marin Voice: Sheriff could better protect immigrants in Marin
By Stephen Bingham and Jessica Hollinger
Posted: 03/16/17, 2:00 PM PDT| Updated: 17 hrs ago
In his March 6 Marin Voice column, Sheriff Robert Doyle sought to assure constituents that his office will neither initiate contact with anyone solely for immigration purposes nor target undocumented crime victims or witnesses. He emphasized that his office policy “specifically forbids participation” in Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE — raids, a claim many community members read with misplaced relief.
Members of United Marin Rising wish to clarify that the policies described by Sheriff Doyle afford immigrants the basic rights required by two state laws, the 2013 TRUST Act and the 2016 TRUTH Act; nothing more.
Much of Doyle’s article served merely to affirm his office’s adherence to its own legal mandate and California laws.
The sheriff’s office purview is criminal law enforcement and does not extend to determining a person’s federal immigration status, a civil matter. As a general rule, local law enforcement does not initiate contact based solely on suspected immigration status. A mere 37 counties in the United States have volunteered to be deputized to do so by the Department of Homeland Security. That Marin County is not one of them is only minimally laudable.
In his column, Doyle stresses that his office does not discriminate by immigration status in its treatment of arrestees, crime victims or witnesses. Again, this policy merely hews to California law, which guarantees such equal treatment.
There is a great deal of vital information missing from the sheriff’s assurances.
Notably, Doyle fails to indicate the ways in which his office’s policies actually provide for more cooperation with ICE in civil immigration matters than required by federal and state law.
Federal law does not require local agencies to grant ICE requests to detain undocumented inmates beyond normal release dates (“holds”). California’s TRUST Act specifically limits the circumstances under which agencies within the state may choose to honor immigration “hold” requests and grants local officials full discretion to further limit cooperation.
The sheriff’s order implementing the TRUST Act declines the opportunity to restrict or prohibit detention for civil immigration purposes, instead maximizing the potential scope of cooperation, even in certain cases involving inmates with only misdemeanor convictions.
The order even allows for “holds” authorized only by an administrative, rather than judicial, finding of probable cause to justify detention. This runs contrary to the TRUST Act’s dictates, as well as a federal court decision from Oregon that interpreted the 4th Amendment of the Constitution to require an independent judicial magistrate to establish probable cause, apart from any ICE finding.
Moreover, Doyle admits in his article that his office permits ICE to enter Marin County Jail to interview inmates, even without legal representation. No federal or state law requires this. While inmates are given notices, as required by the TRUTH Act, about their right to refuse to talk to ICE, they are not afforded the opportunity to consult with an attorney before agreeing to an interview.
Finally, Doyle’s claim that his office policy “specifically forbids participation” in immigration raids is distinctly misleading.
The policy only covers sweeps “intended solely to locate and detain undocumented immigrants.” This wording allows the sheriff’s office to collaborate in ICE enforcement actions so long as it nominally serves some additional purpose. Doyle further declined to mention that his office policy affirmatively allows personnel to “provide support services, including traffic control, during an ICE operation.”
Sheriff Doyle’s Marin Voice piece purports to ease the “significant fear and anxiety” of Marin’s immigrant communities. His office’s policies, however, belie these aims.
United Marin Rising calls on Sheriff Doyle to reform these policies to justify the “trust and confidence” he desires from his constituents.
Stephen Bingham of San Rafael and Jessica Hollinger of Tam Valley are members of United Marin Rising, a grassroots organization of Marin residents and groups focused on social, environmental and economic issues facing Marin.