NONSANCTUARY1

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood pleads his case to the Board of Supervisors that Kern County be declared a “nonsanctuary” county May 2 at the Board of Supervisors Chambers.

Responding to reports of immigration authorities undertaking targeted enforcement operations throughout the state, Delano Police Department officials took to Facebook Thursday to let people know they were not cooperating with federal agents.

Interim Delano Police Chief Jerry Nicholson wrote that he was contacted by a concerned citizen asking about a number of rumors circulating about the Delano Police Department’s involvement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, who have been conducting operations throughout the state recently.

Among the rumors? That DPD police vehicles and uniforms were being used by ICE agents to fool the public, and that DPD officers were arresting immigrants on behalf of ICE.

Nicholson denied either of those rumors were true.

“I want to reassure the community of Delano that we will continue to serve our City and all of you, without regard to your immigration status or citizenship. Our police officers do not stop, detain or arrest anyone based on their immigration or citizenship status,” Nicholson wrote Thursday evening on the department's Facebook page.

He encouraged anyone who might be victims or witnesses of crimes to continue assisting the Delano Police Department, “without fear that our officers will try and determine anyone’s ‘status.'”

Delano Police Department’s message to the public comes after reports that ICE agents have been conducting targeted immigration enforcement operations throughout the area, netting at least 24 detainments in Kern County, many in farmworker communities, according to reports from the United Farm Workers of America.

Meanwhile, Kern County Sheriff’s Sgt. Stephen Wells said the department doesn’t have regular contact with ICE agents.

The departement follows the law according to the Trust Act, which allows local law enforcement to contact ICE about an undocumented suspect in custody only if they have committed a serious crime, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. Those crimes are laid out in the Trust Act.

“Where it falls through the cracks is when somebody posts bail. There’s no mechanism for us to talk to ICE about those being released,” said Youngblood, who has in the past been at odds with Gov. Jerry Brown and the democratic legislature over the Trust Act, which he said defies federal law. 

He asked the Kern County Board of Supervisors last year to declare the county a "law and order" county, as opposed to a "sanctuary" county. It ran counter to the spirit of a state sanctuary law passed last year that ICE officials say has forced them to step-up enforcement operations in California. The supervisors declined to approve Youngblood's request. 

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

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