Donny Youngblood

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, shown in a file photo speaking at the American Legion and Legion Riders Post #711 First Responders Public Service Awards Dinner in Lake Isabella, wants Kern to declare itself a “non-sanctuary county.”

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood will weigh in on the immigration debate raging over “sanctuary cities” early next month when he asks the Kern County Board of Supervisors to declare Kern a “non-sanctuary county.”

At the core of the issue is whether cities and counties should allow their law enforcement agencies to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials of the impending release of immigrants in the country illegally from jail and hold those individuals until they can be picked up by ICE.

“I am asking for a resolution that we are not a sanctuary county but a law and order county,” Youngblood said Wednesday. “The resolution would alert the state and the federal government that Kern County intends to follow the law.”

The move comes as a number of California cities have named themselves “sanctuary cities” and vowed not to assist the federal government in deportations.

The Trump administration has issued an executive order striping sanctuary cities of federal grant money and lawyers from the City of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara have sued to stop that executive order.

The California state Senate has passed Senate Bill 54, which would prevent law enforcement officers from collaborating with ICE to detain arrestees for all but the most violent felony crimes.

Here in Kern County, where deep blue California turns red, immigration has long been a complicated, emotional issue.

According to U.S. Census estimates from the American Community Survey, Kern County’s population is now majority Latino.

Youngblood said his proposal is designed to make Kern County’s position on the issue clear.

“No one knows what ‘sanctuary” means. I just know I don’t want to be one,” Youngblood said.

He said the issue is expected to come before the Kern County Board of Supervisors on May 2.

Supervisor Mick Gleason said he hasn’t decided how he will go on the issue.

“I don’t have a firm opinion,” he said. “I sincerely appreciate the gesture (Youngblood’s) making, that he’s trying to articulate clearly how he is going about enforcing federal law.”

Gleason said he needs to understand the issue better and hear from county officials what the implications of the idea will be before he makes up his mind.

But he’s not an opponent.

“I like the idea. I certainly would not appreciate being a sanctuary city, so I’m already halfway there,” Gleason said.

Supervisor Leticia Perez sounded like a no vote in a statement.

"Over the past few months, I, alongside many constituents, friends and family have lived the heartache and overwhelming fear of increasingly alienation," she said. "While this county has a duty to consider all of the implications at hand, I have to ask my colleagues if targeting our neighbors, friends, families and innocent children is worth what is being asked of us. Political rhetoric of hate and division is not new to this county or country but it doesn't have to define our future. I ask my colleagues to act as Americans, in unity and for the good of this great country."

News of Youngblood’s proposal prompted swift opposition from social justice groups.

Jennie Pasquarella, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, called Youngblood’s proposal “extremely ill-advised” for a county that has so many immigrant residents.

“We had the situation in Kern County before people were being deported when they came to the courthouse to get married or pay a parking ticket,” she said.

Pasquarella wondered if Youngblood is hoping to create an environment where the immigrant community is afraid to report crimes and engage with law enforcement agencies.

A sanctuary community isn’t going to stop ICE from going about its everyday activities, she said, but it does let the immigrant community know that it can report crime, connect with government agencies and go into public buildings without being afraid of deportation.

Eriberto Fernandez, civic engagement and policy coordinator with the UFW Foundation, said Youngblood’s approach isn’t helping to build a healthier community.

“His actions run counter-productive to what most in California are working hard to defend: hardworking immigrant communities,” Fernandez said. “Sheriff Youngblood is buying into the harmful rhetoric that the Trump administration is perpetuating – that immigrants are criminals.”

Studies, including one by the Cato Institute, show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than other residents, he said. Families who haven’t committed crimes are already being deported.

“Immigrants, especially farmworkers, are the backbone of our local and state economy,” Fernandez said. “Kern County would not exist were it not for the hard sacrifices of immigrants made in all industrial sectors, especially agriculture.”

James Burger can be reached at 661-395-7417. Follow him on Twitter at @KernQuirks and on Facebook at Tbc James Burger.

(20) comments

Patrick Pine

I urge the County Supervisors not to take action on the Sheriff's request. The executive order issued by President Trump relating to taking federal money from local governments considered to be "sanctuary" units was ruled unconstitutional.
The Sheriff's claim that Kern County should be a "law and order" county disparages other law enforcement leaders in many communities who feel that making the holding of those who may not be documented for federal officials takes away from their own priorities for having law and order in their communities. In other words, there are other credible law enforcement leaders who strongly differ with Sheriff Youngblood.
I would urge the County Supervisors to leave well enough alone.


First, the judge's ruling will be appealed. Second, how much time and resources are taken away from the local LE's "law and order" duties to make a phone call to ICE and let them in the door when they arrive at the jail? Finally, I agree that it's not necessary (or it shouldn't be) to pass a resolution affirming our county's commitment to the rule of law. On the other hand, what does it say about those entities which go out of their way to pass "in your face" laws and ordinances declaring fealty to the invader rather than the homeland?


Peace......Vote Blue in 2018


It's simply against the laws of our country to be here illegally. It is criminal! It may be a misdemeanor the first time, but if deported then caught again, it's a felony. When individuals choose to break our laws by violating our sovereingty borders, it shows lack of respect. It shows that they're not willing to wait their turn. Trump's executive order was blocked today by the liberal judges of the ninth circuit court. When you have no borders like the liberals want then you have anarchy and chaos.


Farmers are not at a lose for workers. They can and have been using Mexicans under our Visa laws. I remember the Bracero program as well. Americans are working in the farms also. I am very happy that our Sheriff, Donny Youngblood, is standing by our Country's laws. I invite anyone to go to our crowded ER's. It is not like it was when my family came up to America in the 20th century. They had good work ethics and didn't take any handouts. They were proud and showed respect. Their houses and yards were immaculate. I am proud that my family was among these honest Mexicans. We pushed our children to be educated. All of our children were taught English and we assimilated into the American culture. We may celebrate our cultural holidays, but we do not wave the Mexican flag and shout Viva Mexico. We love America and the choices that she offers. We are citizens of the USA, and we will not be party to a sanctuary state. Illegal means illegal.


Okay, Sheriff YB wants to publicly demonstrate a firm backbone aligning himself, and the public institution he leads, with the current federal posturing on the topic of immigration. Just remember that federal power is not absolute nor infallible. Therefore, all of those opposed to this sort of public announcement need to take this very serious and allow your views be heard!


Mexicans. They love Mexico so much.... they refuse to live there...!!
If illegals voted Republican… Democrats would all be down at the border with pitchforks and clubs….


"No one knows what ‘sanctuary” means. I just know I don’t want to be one,” Youngblood said." Yes, actually some people knows what this means. He really needs to get clear about it, before he comments.


Actually Sheriff Youngblood is being very wise to want to protect himself, his department and his county from liability for nonfeasance in enforcing the law. It's only a matter of time until some sharp lawyer argues that his client, the victim of a crime committed by an "undocumented" criminal, would not have suffered loss if the justice system had done its duty by removing said criminal after any prior brush with the law. Whether felony, misdemeanor or otherwise, aiding and abetting criminal activity is going to come back and bite some of these so-called sanctuary entities sooner or later.


Racist redneck! It's time for you to retire.


Yup, this should make local farmers really, really happy. Say, when IS the next election for Sheriff?


Funny how the backers of the Latino community want special treatment. I have friends who immigrated from the Phillipines who had to spend many years in the process to obtain citizenship, but did it the legal way. They are lawabiding, English speaking, hard working, not on public assistence. How come we have to treat Latinos like little children that can't take care of themselves? YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING DEPORTED IF YOU HAVE MADE THE EFFORT TO BECOME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.


Foreign volunteers in the Revolution made America great. Undocumented workers made Kern county agriculture great. Why make it scary for them to trust local law enforcement? Who benefits from scaring people who just want earn a living and improve their children's lives?


It is a true sign of the times when a Sheriff asks the County Board of Supervisors to make clear that the County will support law and order and this is somehow controversial.

Well done, Sheriff Youngblood. And shame on any County Supervisor who does not vote "yes" wholeheartedly.


Youngblood is playing politics with no regard to the costs and liability to the county.
1-Most immigration offenses are not criminal, they are civil violations, and police and sheriffs don’t really worry about civil violations. If we’re adding this additional responsibility for them, do they have the capacity to do it? Is it actually going to help their primary mission of fighting crime? I think not. The Feds are not going to pay Kern County for taking on the added costs.
2- Requiring police to enforce immigration law might discourage members of the immigrant community from seeking out law enforcement when they need help.
Immigrants residing in our cities and town must be able to trust the police and ALL of the city government. This can actually HURT crime fighting.
3- Local police officers and sheriffs are not trained in federal law and when making an arrest regarding "illegal immigration". Will they arrest and jail a person for improper entry OR unlawful presence? Unlawful presence in the country is not a crime. It is a violation of federal immigration law to remain in the country without legal authorization, but this violation is punishable by civil penalties, not criminal. So officers and the city or county are open and LIABLE when they mess up. This leaves the LOCAL taxpayers on the hook for the legal liability and potentially a lot of money when the officers mess up, and they will mess up!
So it is not just a matter of what we believe in, ethically or morally, but we must also think in a practical and pragmatic way.
Youngblood is failing to consider the financial costs to the county nor the liability in a county that is already strapped for money and other resources.


I've heard your arguments before and I don't they have much merit.
1. Whether it's a minor or major offense, they entered the country ILLEGALLY. Now they are skirting our tax systems.
2. This is the biggest joke of all. There wouldn't be any crime in those communities by ILLEGAL immigrants if they weren't able to come in the first place. Your argument is that we should give them our protection because they were able to ILLEGALLY sneak into our country?
3. This is because of liberal laws that can't ask for identification. If our law enforcement agencies were allowed to practice their skills, they would do it confidently.
Bottom line is I don't want my tax dollars going towards ILLEGAL immigrants (social spending or incarceration). I, as an American citizen, will pay taxes knowing that they are being spent to benefit the lives of American citizens. Youngblood is a law enforcement officer and is only enforcing the laws already on the books. We can barely support our citizens that are living below the poverty line. The last thing is to support another group of people that have entered the country ILLEGALLY.


Mr Fernandez. Immigrants who have entered the country illegally are criminals.


Most that are here "illegally" are in violation of "unlawful presence" which is NOT a criminal violation, but rather a civil code. Those that enter illegally would be in violation of a misdemeanor. I suppose some might call a misdemeanor a crime. That would make you and all of us criminals.
I am darn confident we have all violated a traffic law, aka, a misdemeanor.

Norman Ingram

Getting a traffic ticket is an infraction! Not taking going to court for that ticket can be a misdemeanor. So if a person not here legally had a drivers license, and a registered vehicle, and provided proof of insurance, while driving said vehicle, it would merely be an infraction and that person would go on their way. Just like ANY law abiding citizen. If they did not have all of the required documentation then the LEO does more investigating, the same goes for anyon3!


Nickynines....What would happen if an American snuck into Mexico to live, didn't become a citizen, then got caught by police for breaking a traffic law?

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