Immigration Advocates and Attorneys Speak Out

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

Attorney Aida Macedo

Immigration advocates and attorneys say the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has actively sought loopholes in California’s sanctuary law to help federal immigration officials arrest undocumented immigrants — raising questions about the law’s efficacy.

The law, passed last year as Senate Bill 54, prohibits local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to detain undocumented immigrants, though certain offenses give local agencies discretion to work with ICE.

Attorneys following SB 54 say there are loopholes in how it’s written. In contrast, Sheriff Margaret Mims admits although she’s not a fan of the law and thinks it threatens public safety, she’s upholding it.

As an example of such a loophole, some have pointed to the recent case of Ramiro Gonzalez Alvarez, a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who served two months in Fresno County Jail for his third misdemeanor DUI.

After serving his sentence, Alvarez was due to be released from jail. He was being processed in an area of the jail called the “release vestibule,” a small room with a locked door on each end. As he was getting his wallet from correctional officers, two federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were buzzed inside