SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The top federal immigration official says his agency will have "no choice" but to conduct arrests in local neighborhoods and worksites in California after the governor signed a law that extends protections for immigrants who are in the country illegally.
In another sign of escalating tensions between California and the Trump administration, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan says his agency will also likely have to place immigrants arrested in California in out-of-state detention centers.
Homan's statement Friday came a day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed "sanctuary state" legislation.
Starting Jan. 1, police will be barred from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. Jail officials only will be allowed to transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of certain crimes.
ICE Acting Director Tom Homan issued a statement about the state's sanctuary law:
Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB54 and make California a sanctuary state for illegal aliens – including those who have committed crimes – will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission. The governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.
SB54 will negatively impact ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state, voiding the delegated authority that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has under the 287g program, and prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.
ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community. ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.
Ultimately, SB54 helps shield removable aliens from immigration enforcement and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect.
Despite the severe challenges that this law creates for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all sheriffs and local elected officials. This misguided legislation will severely undermine those efforts.
10News reached out to the San Diego Police Department and San Diego Sheriff's Department late Friday for comment. We're waiting for a response.