Investigation: Preparing for a Sanctuary State Law

Law enforcement, immigration activists, and victims of undocumented crime speak

Fresno, Calif. - In an Eyewitness News Investigation. As people process the verdict in the Kate Steinle case, California is set to become a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. What kind of an impact will this have on life here in the Valley?  

On most days there are more than 90 undocumented inmates at the Fresno County jail who are wanted by ICE agents.Once the sanctuary state law kicks in at the start of the year it will limit the access of ICE agents meaning some of the inmates will be protected from being deported. 

 "My son was 25 years old, probably when he graduated law school he would've gotten married. I would've had a couple of grandchildren now," said Don Rosenberg.  

Dealing with the pain for seven years now, Rosenberg tells us his son Drew was killed near San Francisco in a crash caused by an undocumented driver who tried to run from the scene. Don explained over Skype how this tragedy has changed his life. 
"I've been working to get criminal illegal aliens out of the united states ever since," said Rosenberg. 

Rosenberg says he has nothing against the hard working undocumented people living in california, but he believes the sanctuary state bill goes too far and he's helping to lead an effort to block the bill and send it to California voters next November.

"We're not even talking now about people who are here illegally, they want to protect people who are here illegally and have been arrested, or convicted of other crimes and they want to protect them," said Rosenberg. 

As the opposition to the sanctuary state bill works to gather thousands of signatures by January 3rd, Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson is preparing for the bill to become law.

"We don't get to talk to ICE anymore so it may be someone in our community who is a bad person, but if they don't rise to that criteria they get to go right back into our community and victimize other people," said Sheriff Robinson. 

Sheriff Robinson gave us a look inside the Kings County Jail. As of November there were 9 undocumented inmates, with 94 pages of combined California criminal history. Under current law, any of these inmates could be investigated by federal immigration agents, but under the sanctuary state law, two of the nine would be protected from ICE agents. 

"The bottom line is this bill only protects criminals," said Sheriff Robinson.  

A closer look at the two inmates who would be protected by the sanctuary state bill reveals inmate #1 currently faces drug charges and has a 21 page California criminal history going back to 1990. It includes multiple DUI arrests, drug possesion, and resisting arrest. He also has 7 different aliases. None of this information could be shared with ice agents.  

Inmate #2 faces charges of felony child abuse, but does not have a California criminal history. This inmate is eligible for bail and could be released back into the community. ICE could only be notified if there is a conviction. 

Both Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims believe limiting their communication with ICE will lead to federal agents raiding neighborhoods impacting undocumented families.

"The unintended consequence of that is not only are they in our community, they aren't just going to take a person that they're looking for. If there are other people around that are in the country illegally they're going to take them also," said Sheriff Mims. 

Santos Garcia is a supporter of sanctuary state legislation. He says people are already being unfairly deported. 
"Right now we have deportations happening every day, every day and these people are hard working citizens and hard working members of our society," said Garcia.  

He says a sanctuary state law in necessary to stop immigration enforcement by local law enforcement. 

"These people are committing minor offenses and they're getting deported because they're being targeted by local law enforcement to immigration authorities," said Garcia.  

Sheriffs up and down the Valley adimantlly deny those allegations.

"We just didn't go out and do civil immigration enforcement. It just didn't happen, but that was pitched by the author of the bill incorrectly but many people believe that.> [Duration:0:11]

Missing his son every day, Rosenburg says he won't give up the fight to stop a sanctuary state law. 

"I'm so sick of hearing you are tearing families apart because nobody ever says to us. I'm sorry, we destroyed your family," said Rosenburg

 365,000 signatures are needed to block the sanctuary state bill and send it to voters next November. If not, California becomes a sanctuary state in 2018.


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