Hundreds of people packed the Santa Clara County Supervisors chamber on Tuesday to find out whether the county would be making a critical change to its sanctuary city policy.
Many are demanding the county make a change to better work with immigration officials. Meanwhile, immigrant rights groups are urging supervisors not to make any changes.
After the death of Bambi Larson, supervisors gave staff 60 days to come up with modifications to the policy. Those 60 days are up, and staff is siding the immigrant rights groups.
Larson's murder prompted supervisors to revisit the county's sanctuary policy. Police say she was killed by an undocumented immigrant with a long rap sheet.
Immigrant agents on several occasions put holds on the release of Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza. The holds, known as detainers, were requested so agents could come take him away.
County staff was tasked with finding a way to legally tweak that policy.
"We are recommending against the implementation of any notification policy," Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said.
Before Tuesday's board meeting, immigrant rights groups celebrated the staff decision outside the chambers.
"We already have ICE picking up individuals in our community every day," said Priya Murthy with Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network. "We don't need to be giving them more avenues and be able to instill fear in our communities."
Every police chief in the county, except for Sunnyvale, signed a letter urging supervisors to allow ICE to be notified when a violent criminal was about to be released. There was disappointment when the board voted not to change the policy.
"This is not just a local issue, but a national issue," San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said. "And I know I speak for major city chiefs around the country when I say decisions like this are disappointing and frustrating at the same time."
Garcia said his officers will still arrest violent criminals, no matter their immigration status.
The president of the San Jose Police Officers Association released a statement that reads, in part: "Immigrants have every right, along with every other resident, to be protected from violent criminals. Notifying our federal law enforcement partners of the upcoming release of those individuals with a proven record of violent criminal behavior is the right thing to do and we will keep pushing until this is done."
The county staff said any change to the policy might expose the county to legal liability.