Sheriff Youngblood responds to rumored ICE raids in 'sanctuary state'

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood speaks on Jan. 18, 2018, about the rumored ICE raids and California's new sanctuary state laws. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Rumors are swirling about immigration raids across California.

This began after the San Francisco Chronicle reported that federal immigration authorities will soon crack down on illegal immigrants in Northern California.

The rumors are sparking fear and anxiety for many undocumented immigrants across the state.

"These people are scared to death," Win Eaton, Bakersfield immigration attorney, said. "We have received calls from people across California and they're just absolutely terrified."

Eaton said he believes these rumored raids may be federal retaliation to California's sanctuary state efforts.

"The motivation for these crackdowns seem so politically charged and that's unfortunate," he said. "I'm disappointed that Congress hasn't fixed the problem and allowed it to boil to this point of civil unrest, and I'm afraid of where it could be going."

Thursday, California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra addressed the rumors of suspected immigration raids and said the state respects federal law, but he expects the federal government to do the same.

Bacerra warned employers to know the law in California's so-called sanctuary state.

"I think it's important given these rumors that are out there, to let people know, and more specifically today, employers know, that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office or local prosecutors in enforcing AB450," Becerra said.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he does not know of any raids that ICE has planned.

He said even though California is a sanctuary state, that will not stop ICE from doing its job.

"As far as raids go, it doesn't change anything that we do," Youngblood said. "The federal government and ICE can come in and do whatever they want to do within the law."

Youngblood said a lot of negative can occur when federal and state agencies don't cooperate.

"I think to wave a red flag in front of a bull is a dangerous thing to do," he said.

He said local law enforcement cannot go out on sweeps to find illegal immigrants, and he will be following SB54.

"The law is the law and we have to follow it," Youngblood said.

This means for most undocumented immigrants in custody, law enforcement will not give ICE any information about them.

"If someone is in custody for driving under the influence and ICE calls and asks if we have them, and DUI is what they are in custody for, we would not be allowed to talk to them," Youngblood said. "They can't get some of those people from the jails, and I do believe that they're going to go in the communities and look for those people."

Eaton fears this will lead to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record getting deported.

"Many of these people have no criminal history and they're going to be caught and removed," he said.

Eaton said if an illegal immigrant has not done anything wrong, but is picked up by ICE agents, he said they should request to see an immigration judge.

James Schwab, San Francisco spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, would not comment on the suspected raids.

He told Eyewitness News, "I am not able to speculate about future enforcement actions."

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