Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchins says she believes crime will increase if a "sanctuary state" bill now being considered in the legislature becomes law.
"It is my belief that we will have more violent crimes occurring that could have been prevented without this bill," Hutchins said of Senate Bill 54, which would prohibit cooperation between state law enforcement agencies and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"My department works with a task force with ICE agents who are dealing with the sexual exploitation of minors...and this bill does not make clear whether we could have those kinds of discussions," Hutchins said on NBC 4's News Conference program Sunday.
SB 54, introduced by State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), has been amended to allow law enforcement to contact the FBI regarding undocumented immigrants convicted of a "serious" felony. Hutchins doesn't believe that goes far enough.
"It doesn't clarify...our ability to let ICE interview people who are in our custody. It allows us to notify the FBI and not ICE so again, I think it restricts our ability to work collaboratively dealing with dangerous individuals who are potentially going to be released into our community," Hutchins said, who is a board member of the California State Sheriffs Association, which is opposing the bill.
SB 54 passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee this past week. The chair of that committee, St. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) defended the bill saying it helps law enforcement by ensuring trust in the neighborhoods they patrol.
However Lara did say there may be room for amending the bill to satisfy law enforcement critics.
"We can fine tune these components," she said. "The last thing want to do is prohibit successful programs...to be able to cut down on human trafficking...but our local police need to focus on reducing crime in our communities and not being the ICE agents that the federal government has the responsibility to do."