Bay Area's ICE arrests fall amid cities' sanctuary policies, feds' border efforts

ICE spokespeople say city sanctuary policies allow immigrants to break the law, will not deter immigration enforcement from doing their jobs

Tatiana Sanchez and Alejandro Serrano
San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal immigration officials in the greater Bay Area deported about 1,000 fewer people in fiscal 2019 than in the previous year, in tune with a national decline officials largely attribute to the reallocation of resources to the U.S- Mexico border.

Authorities this year deported 5,057 people and arrested 5,098 in the San Francisco region, which includes the area from Sacramento to Fresno and Bakersfield, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Chronicle. Last fiscal year, officials removed 6,113 people and arrested 6,210.That’s a 17% decrease in deportations and an 18% decrease in arrests.

Some of the arrestees were ultimately deported, meaning there is overlap in the data provided, said ICE spokeswoman Paige Hughes, though she could not say how many people were both arrested and deported. A majority of those apprehended had a previous criminal record, she said.

An estimated 8,500 of the 2019 deported or arrested individuals were convicted criminals, compared with nearly 10,000 in fiscal 2018, according to ICE.

Hughes credited the local decreases to sanctuary policies as well as the shift of ICE resources to the border. She declined to specify what and how many resources were redistributed.

California in 2018 implemented its sanctuary law, SB 54, which largely prohibits police from cooperating with ICE unless an individual commits a serious crime.

One local ICE official said sanctuary policies will not deter the agency’s enforcement efforts.

“Refusing to cooperate with our officers will not result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement,” said David Jennings, field office director for ICE’s San Francisco office, in a statement.

San Francisco officials have refused to transfer any immigrants to ICE custody, an issue that reached a boiling point with the killing of Kate Steinle, who was shot to death on Pier 14 in 2015 by a homeless undocumented immigrant who had a criminal record and had been deported several times. Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in 2017.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in June declined to change a sanctuary policy that drew criticism after the killing of 59-year-old San Jose resident Bambi Larson. Critics said the policy allowed the county last February to release a violent felon, an undocumented immigrant, who was accused of then breaking into Larson’s home and killing her. Carlos Arevalo Carranza remains in the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose without bond.

Jennings said sanctuary policies do not protect those who follow the law.

“They have proven — time and again — to protect criminals and, actually, result in many preventable crimes of violence taking place in our communities because violent criminal aliens are released and free to re-offend,” Jennings said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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