DEPARTMENT POLICY LINKS:
428 –Immigration Violations
1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE
2. BASIS FOR CONTACT
3. EQUAL ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS
4. IMMIGRATION SWEEPS
5. INDIVIDUAL REQUESTS BY ICE FOR FIELD ASSISTANCE
6. JOINT OPERATION WITH ICE
7. PROCEDURES FOR IMMIGRATION COMPLAINTS
8. U-VISA/T-VISA NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS
428.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The Sheriff’s Office is committed to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public -- regardless of alien status. Confidence in this commitment will increase the Sheriff’s Office's effectiveness in protecting and serving the entire community.
428.2 BASIS FOR CONTACT
The United States Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has primary jurisdiction for enforcement of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Title 8 of the United States Codes) as to both civil and criminal immigration violations. California peace officers are not authorized under federal law to arrest an individual for violation of a civil immigration law, such as being illegally present in the country (i.e., an undocumented alien).
If a Sheriff’s Office member suspects that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States, such a suspicion shall not, by itself, serve as the basis for contact, detention, or arrest. Absent a separate law enforcement reason, Sheriff’s Office members shall not question such persons directly about their immigration status, nor telephone ICE while in the field to obtain such information.
428.3 EQUAL ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS
Sheriff’s Office members shall give equal consideration to all persons with whom they come into contact. As stated in other policies, law enforcement actions shall not be taken against persons on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, or other protected classification. In addition, the disposition of each contact (i.e., warning, citation, arrest, etc.), while discretionary in each case, shall not be affected by any of those factors.
428.4 IMMIGRATION SWEEPS
The Sheriff’s Office shall not independently conduct "sweeps" or other concentrated efforts for the purpose of locating and detaining persons who are solely suspected of being illegally present in the United States. Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Division
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428.5 INDIVIDUAL REQUESTS BY ICE FOR FIELD ASSISTANCE
If a specific request for assistance is made by ICE or another federal law enforcement agency, the Sheriff’s Office will provide available support services such as traffic control, keep-the-peace efforts, or mutual aid, during the federal operation.
428.6 JOINT OPERATIONS WITH ICE
The Sheriff's Office will work cooperatively with ICE and other federal law enforcement agencies to help locate known or suspected criminals and gang members. All other requests to conduct joint operations with ICE or other federal law enforcement agencies shall be referred to the Sheriff or designee for prior approval and to establish operational parameters.
As a condition to working with ICE on a joint operation in the field, the Sheriff’s Office shall require ICE to refrain from arresting or taking custody of persons solely based on a suspicion that they are unlawfully present in the country (i.e., civil immigration violations), or solely based on low level traffic violations (e.g., Vehicle Code § 12500). Under such condition, ICE must agree at the outset of a joint operation not to arrest persons for civil immigration violations unless the subject was identified as a target of the joint operation, or if probable cause exists to believe the subject has engaged in criminal activity.
428.7 PROCEDURES FOR IMMIGRATION COMPLAINTS
Persons wishing to report immigration violations should be referred to the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in San Francisco.
428.8 U-VISA/T-VISA NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS
Under certain circumstances, Federal law allows temporary immigration benefits to victims and witnesses of certain qualifying crimes (8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(U and T) or 8 USC § 1101(a)(15)(T)). The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office "shall certify" victim helpfulness and a declaration/certification for a U-Visa/T-Visa from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must be completed on the appropriate U.S. DHS Form supplements (I-918 or I-914) by law enforcement and must include information on how the victim of a qualifying criminal activity has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to the detection, investigation or prosecution in order for a U-Visa/T-Visa to be issued. Any request for assistance in applying for U-Visa/T-Visa status should be forwarded in a timely manner to the sergeant assigned to supervise the handling of any related case. The sergeant should do the following:
(a) Consult with the assigned detective to determine the current status of any related case and whether a supplemental report or further documentation is warranted.
(b) Review the instructions for completing the declaration/certification if necessary. Instructions for completing Forms I-918/I-914 can be found on the U.S. DHS website at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.
(c) Contact the appropriate prosecutor assigned to the case and District Attorney Victim Advocate, if applicable, to ensure the declaration/certification has not already been completed and whether a declaration/certification is warranted. If the District Attorney’s Office files charges against the perpetrator of the crime and the Sheriff's Office receives a I-918 U-Visa request for that victim, the documents will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office to complete.
Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Division
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(d) Review all relevant information regarding the petitioning victim and their cooperation with the investigation and prosecution to ensure that they reasonably cooperated with the investigation.
(e) Address the request and complete the declaration/certification within 90 days of receiving the request, unless the non-citizen is in removal proceedings, in which case the declaration/certification shall be processed within 14 within receiving the request.
(f) Ensure that any decision to complete or not complete the form is documented.
(g) No information pertaining to the legal status of the petitioner should be retained in the report writing system.
(h) If a petitioner’s request for certification is declined by the Investigations Sergeant, the information shall be reviewed by the Investigations Bureau Lieutenant.
(i) The petitioner is responsible for filing the completed certification with the I-918 Form.
428.8.1 HUMAN TRAFFICKING T-VISA
Deputies and their supervisors who are assigned to investigate a case of human trafficking shall complete the above process and documents needed for a T-Visa application within 15 business days of the first encounter with the victim, whether or not it is requested by the victim (Penal Code § 236.5).