The Sheriff’s office is in the process of altering its policy regarding the handling of undocumented individuals who are booked in County jail. As it currently stands, when an arrestee is booked and fingerprinted, the Sheriff’s office automatically sends his or her fingerprints to the federal government who, in turn, notify Immigration & Custom Enforcement (ICE) if an undocumented immigrant is in custody. Typically, ICE will then put an “ICE hold” on the individual, which means that the person must stay in local custody pending the resolution of the criminal case. Once the case has resolved, ICE has a limited time, typically 48 hours, to bring the individual into federal custody for potential deportation proceedings.

Under the new policy, the Sheriff’s office will not automatically send undocumented immigrants’ fingerprints to ICE. Instead, they will wait until after the criminal case is resolved. If the case was dismissed or resulted in a conviction for a low-level misdemeanor (excluding a DUI or domestic violence), then the Sheriff’s office will not forward the information to ICE.

The new policy falls more in-line with other local Sheriff’s policies, such as Santa Clara and San Francisco. Alameda County, on the other hand, still automatically sends arrestees’ fingerprints to ICE. Alameda County Supervisor Valle has recently introduced a resolution to encourage the Sheriff to alter its policy of sending all fingerprints to ICE. ICE itself has been reviewing its deportation policy and stated that it plans to re-shift its focus more towards those with a history of serious crimes.

For more information about the policy change, see the Contra Costa Times’ article, “Contra Costa County softening policies on immigrant deportations.”