Fresno County sheriff decries department's inability to work with federal agents
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims had a roundtable meeting Wednesday with President Donald Trump in Washington D.C., joining several officials from California who are opposed to sanctuary state laws.
"It’s a disgrace” Mims told the president that her department is restricted in how much it can share with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
In a phone call with reporters after the meeting, Mims said "It was quite an honor" to meet with the president. Mims said she is convinced "the president is going to take up our concerns."
It's likely that cities will be hearing from the president's legal team, she added.
"My main takeaway is the present administration is dedicated to keeping our communities safe," she said.
Mims said she is upset that deputies cannot share with ICE agents certain information about inmates, such as whether an inmate belongs to a criminal street gang.
"Sheriffs are truly stuck in the middle," she said.
ICE agents can no longer "search our database" she said, although they were able to do that before the passage of the sanctuary state laws.
"We need to have some local control about what's happening in our communities and SB54 is not helping," said Mims, referring to one of the sanctuary state laws.
Meanwhile, the federal government is suing the state to stop enforcement of the laws. And it is getting support from some cities, such as Hanford, which voted Tuesday to support the federal lawsuit.
It's critical for public safety, Mims said, that local law enforcement be able to communicate with federal agents.
"We need to not have restrictions on how we communicate with our law enforcement partners," she said.
The very idea of a sanctuary state puts the public at risk, she said.
"If you were a terrorist, California is the place to come because it is now known as a sanctuary state," she said. "My fear is we're going to attract people intent on committing crimes."
State laws now prohibits local law enforcement from asking about immigration status, but deputies weren't doing that to begin with, she said.
"We need to work on immigration reform all out," she said.
She said a member of Congress at the meeting told her Congress is working on immigration reform but was told "there's so much divisiveness there's not much that gets done."