Sheriff won't fight proposed law on immigration cooperation

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, a strong opponent of a state bill that would limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials, said this week that he would not oppose the new law if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it.

In a statement to a Latino community advisory group, Freitas said he would comply with the TRUST Act if it becomes law, even though he does not support it.

The TRUST Act, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, would prohibit local police agencies from holding individuals on federal immigration detainers, or holds, unless they are charged or convicted of a serious felony or certain misdemeanors.

Such holds are a crucial tool used by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes, the primary goal of ICE's jail-based enforcement policy known as Secure Communities.

But immigration advocates have for years argued that Secure Communities casts a wide net that sometimes ensnares U.S. citizens, legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants jailed for minor offenses or charges that later are dropped. The immigration hold — which can last up to 48 hours beyond the time when an individual otherwise would be released from jail — gives ICE agents enough time to take custody of immigrants who are suspected of being in the country illegally.

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