Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit against Santa Clara County Sanctuary Policy
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit on behalf of a County of Santa Clara, CA, taxpayer to overturn a policy that protects aliens in Santa Clara County’s custody from removal proceedings by federal immigration authorities. The taxpayer lawsuit, filed on behalf of Howard Myers, is against Laurie Smith, sheriff of Santa Clara County and Carl Neusel, acting chief of correction of Santa Clara County (Howard A. Myers v. Laurie Smith et al. (No. 19-CV-353510)).
Santa Clara County Board Policy 3.54(B) requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to obtain a “judicial arrest warrant” in order for the county to transfer custody of an alien. Federal law however does not require “judicial arrest warrants” for federal authorities to detain aliens, especially for those who had been incarcerated or arrested by local authorities.
Judicial Watch is asking the court to grant an injunction against the sanctuary policy because:
- It is an “illegal local regulation of immigration;”
- It is “preempted by federal law;” and
- It is “barred by the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity,” which prevents a state from intruding on the federal government’s sovereignty.
On February 28, 2019, Bambi Larson, a Santa Clara County resident, was murdered inside her San Jose home. According to court documents, she suffered extensive and deep wounds consistent with a cutting tool. A few weeks later, Carlos Arevalo-Carranza was arrested and charged with Larson’s murder. Arevalo-Carranza reportedly had multiple, prior convictions in Santa Clara County, including a conviction for burglary in 2015, convictions for battery of an officer, resisting arrest, and entering a property in 2016, and a conviction for false imprisonment in 2017.
He also reportedly had multiple, prior arrests in 2015-2018 in both Santa Clara County and Los Angeles County, including arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine, prowling, and false identification. At the time of Larson’s death, Arevalo-Carranza reportedly was on probation for possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine, false imprisonment, and burglary.
ICE officials sent six separate requests to Santa Clara County, when Arevalo-Carranza was about to be released from its custody, asking that he be detained long enough for federal immigration officials to take him into custody for removal proceedings. Each request was ignored because of Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policies.
In March 2019, San Jose officials reportedly “criticized so-called sanctuary policies they say prevented federal authorities from detaining a gang member in the country illegally before he allegedly killed a woman.” The murderer was a, “self-admitted gang member,” with a “long criminal history in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles spanning five years.”
“Sanctuary policies are illegal and deadly,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has been a leader (and often the only) legal opponent to sanctuary policies that ignore federal and state laws concerning immigration at the expense of the public’s safety, the rule of law, and our national security. Our new taxpayer lawsuit simply seeks to stop tax dollars from being spent on a sanctuary policy that harms public safety and undermines the rule of law.”
Judicial Watch is also pursuing a taxpayer lawsuit against San Francisco’s illegal immigrant sanctuary policies, which is scheduled to go to trial in 2020.