By Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has reversed his support for a controversial deportation program, announcing Wednesday that he will not comply with federal requests to detain suspected illegal immigrants arrested in low-level crimes.
The sheriff's dramatic turnaround came a day after California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris issued a legal directive advising that compliance with the requests is discretionary, not mandatory.
Until then, Baca had insisted that he would honor the requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold some defendants for up to 48 hours. He was an outspoken opponent of the Trust Act, which would have required California law enforcement officials to disregard the requests in many cases, declaring that he would defy the measure if it passed.
Baca has also been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for allegedly denying bail to immigration detainees.
Now, he appears ready to do more or less what was proposed in the Trust Act, which was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.
The change of heart from Baca, a Republican in a heavily Democratic county, comes as GOP leaders are warming to immigration reform in an effort to counteract dismal support from Latino voters. Last month, Baca closed the 1,100-bed Mira Loma immigration detention center, which earned his agency up to $154 a day for each detainee, after contract negotiations with ICE broke down. Read more at the Los Angeles Times