A California state assemblyman is demanding a change to a "state sanctuary" law that prohibits local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials after cops said a twice-deported man living in the United States illegally went on a daylong crime spree that included a murder.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, believes Senate Bill 54 -- known as the California Values Act -- needs fixing to allow local law enforcement agencies to recognize detainer requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel, FOX 26 in Fresno reported.
“When those who say [Bill] 54 makes accommodation for that, they're really not saying it like it is,” Patterson, a former mayor of Fresno, told the station. “It's conflicting, it's confusing and it essentially says you can't talk to ICE on those misdemeanors."
Patterson’s comments come after Gustavo Garcia, 36, of Visalia, allegedly went on a daylong “reign of terror” Monday before dying in a police chase.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said Garcia was in police custody days before the rampage and would have been handed over to ICE agents, if not for California's sanctuary law.
"We are very frustrated with the fact that the way the laws are set up currently that law enforcement hands are tied,” Boudreaux said Wednesday.
Authorities said Garcia's crime spree included robbing a convenience store, shooting several people, including killing one person, and firing at buildings before crashing a truck that he had stolen.
Senate Bill 54 was enacted in September last year by state Democrats on a party-line vote. It was drafted on the premise that undocumented immigrants would feel safer going to the police to report crimes and aid in investigations if they didn’t fear the risk of detention.
Patterson wants the bill’s language rewritten with the help of Democrats, who control the state Legislature.
"This could be fixed but it has to take a will and I don't know if the ruling party has that will," he said. "What the bill language does it simply closes the communication gap so that sheriffs can ask of ICE the kinds of questions that need to be answered."
Though some law enforcement officials favor cooperating with ICE, some are not on board.
Alex Villanueva, head of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department in Los Angeles County, told county officials Tuesday that eliminated the presence of immigration officials from county jails and plans to limit the crimes that lead jail authorities to cooperate with ICE.
“We are going to physically remove ICE from the county jails," Villanueva told the county Board of Supervisors.