Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca last week reversed his support for a controversial deportation program, saying he will not comply with federal requests to detain suspected illegal immigrants arrested in low-level crimes.
The turnaround follows a legal directive this week from California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who advised that compliance with the requests is discretionary, not mandatory.
Baca had previously said he would honor the requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold some defendants for up to 48 hours.
With the about face, Baca joins Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, who announced a similar policy in October. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties also decline to honor some types of ICE holds.
The change may not take effect until early next year, after Baca’s staff fleshes out the details of the new policy, which would apply only to misdemeanor suspects without significant criminal records, The Times reported. The department would still honor federal detention requests for those accused of serious or violent crimes.