ICE Averaged 3 Detainer Requests Daily for Undocumented Immigrants in Santa Clara County: Records

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials continue to ask for holds on undocumented immigrants at the Santa Clara County Jail.

The requests come after the county declared itself a sanctuary county and after the brutal murder of Bambi Larson in San Jose by an undocumented immigrant.

NBC Bay Area filed a California Public Records Act request to get the numbers on just how many times ICE is asking for holds. The results are staggering.

Last year, ICE averaged almost three detainer requests per day. The requests show ICE wants criminals who are being held inside, with the county continuing to reject the requests.

Undocumented immigrants booked into Santa Clara County Jail are set free after serving their time, even though ICE has asked the county to hold onto them.

"Saying it disturbs me greatly," said Bob Cooke, a retired special agent in charge for the California Department of Justice.

Cooke said the county should honor the deportation holds that ICE puts on undocumented inmates, known as detainers.

"You got to work real hard in California to get yourself in jail or prison," Cooke said. "So if he already gets his way there, then we should help that person do time, and then out of the country of they don't belong here."

Here's what an NBC Bay Area investigation found:

  • Since 2011, ICE  has requested the county hold more than 7,554 inmates for deportation -- 30 of them for murder.
  • ICE made more than 1,011 requests in 2018.
  • So far, 159 requests have been made in the first three months of 2019.

"We do not cooperate with ICE as a sanctuary county, unless there's a judicial warrant," said Enrique Flores, an aide to Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.

The supervisor wrote the local detainer policy nine years ago.

Flores said the county policy is to only hold an undocumented inmate beyond his scheduled release date if a judge signs a warrant.

"If you found your way and work hard enough to get to jail, then it's up to us to make sure you pay the consequences," Cooke said.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County's sanctuary policy is under review.

In a couple of months, supervisors will either modify the policy or do nothing at all.

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