ACLU claims Sacramento sheriff illegally transferred inmates to immigration authorities

Law enforcement officers in ballistic vests
The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office of violating Senate Bill 54, which prohibits law enforcement in California from aiding federal immigration enforcement.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 22. I’m Justin Ray.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones’ office, alleging that the department has released undocumented residents to federal immigration agents.

The suit accuses the department of violating California’s four-year-old Senate Bill 54, which prohibits law enforcement in the state from aiding federal immigration enforcement or holding inmates past their set release dates to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to retrieve them.

“Sheriff Scott R. Jones has long championed cooperation with ICE and fiercely opposed SB 54 and similar laws,” the suit reads. “Unable to stop SB 54’s passage, the sheriff and his office have revised its operation through a policy and practice of notifying ICE of when a person will be released from its custody and transferring that person to ICE, including in situations where that person lacks a qualifying criminal conviction or charge.”


The suit claims information in the lawsuit was obtained through emails and documents received via public records requests. When The Times asked for comment last Wednesday, both Sacramento County officials and the sheriff’s department had not seen the complaint. The latter said that, “it’s the long standing policy of Sacramento County not to comment on pending litigation.” A follow-up request on Friday was not answered.

One of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit is Misael Echeveste, who was transferred from Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center to ICE in 2018, the ACLU said in a statement.

“Echeveste remembers that, a few days before his scheduled release from the RCCC, sheriff’s deputies told him he was getting released early. They congratulated him and took him to a changing room,” the ACLU said. “But, instead of returning his street clothes, they handed him a green ICE detainee uniform and announced, laughing, that they were transferring him to ICE custody.”

In July 2018, a man was taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the suit claims. He was released on July 9, 2018, at 11:54 a.m., but the sheriff’s office did not actually release him until around 3:30 p.m. that day. When the man was taken to the lobby for release, ICE officers were waiting with his property and paperwork. As a result of these events, the man faces possible deportation.

The organization and plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the sheriff’s office to change its policies and practices. The ACLU told The Times there might be more lawsuits.

“We see indications of widespread illegal notifications and transfers elsewhere in California, based on stories from community members who were arrested by ICE and what seem like data irregularities in other counties,” Sean Riordan, senior staff attorney for the immigrants’ rights program at the ACLU of Northern California, told The Times in an email. “We are still in the process of seeking further information about the precise practices in those places.”


And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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The University of California has slammed the door shut on using any standardized test for admissions decisions, announcing last week that faculty could find no alternative exam that would avoid the biased results that led leaders to scrap the SAT last year. UC Provost Michael Brown declared the end of testing for admissions decisions at a Board of Regents meeting, putting a conclusive end to more than three years of research and debate in the nation’s premier public university system on whether standardized testing does more harm than good when assessing applicants for admission. Los Angeles Times

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California towns fight for the right to water. There are thousands of unincorporated communities throughout the U.S., mostly Black and Latino, that lack the most basic infrastructure, according to PolicyLink, a foundation promoting economic and social equity. Such communities — Lanare, Matheny Tract and Tooleville, for example — lack access to water. “We only have water in the morning,” says Maria Paz Olivera, secretary of the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Assn. “When workers come home from the fields in the afternoon, there’s no water, and they have to wait until late before they can shower.” Capital and Main

‘A drinking club with a charity problem’: An international civic organization that has launched prominent politicians and community leaders moved quickly this year to expel a longtime member who was accused of sexual assault in a San Francisco Chronicle investigation. However, the paper found that the organization, called Active 20-30, has long since seen its philanthropy “overshadowed by partying, binge drinking and a culture that normalized sexual violence against its own members.” Several women said they left the organization because they felt preyed upon in an atmosphere where many members prioritized drinking alcohol to excess. San Francisco Chronicle



Reports of catalytic converter thefts up 1,500% in Sacramento County. I have previously told you about the issue of catalytic converter thefts. KCRA 3 Investigates took an in-depth look into reports of the thefts in Sacramento County and found the number jumped from 74 reported thefts in 2018 to 1,214 as of October 2021 — a 1,540% increase. “For the last three or four months, we’ve never seen it like this,” Mike Ataya, who owns Ataya Motors, told KCRA 3. He said that someone is stealing them from his dealership “almost on a daily or nightly basis.” KCRA

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They set out to hike America’s three longest trails in less than a year. What could go wrong? Two Stanford University students hatched an ambitious plan: to hike three of the nation’s most arduous trails — the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide — all in a single year. The two meticulously planned their trip, tracing their projected paths along the country’s most difficult terrain. But on the trail — as in life — things happened. Los Angeles Times

Stanford students Sammy Potter of Maine, left, and Jackson Parell of Florida.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

An often forgotten beautiful destination in California. The Channel Islands are made up of eight regions that stretch across Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties. The port city takes a low-key pride in its national park, which on a clear day can be easily spotted just 12 miles into the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can find beautiful views of wildlife and great hiking, yet it is “one of California’s least-visited national parks, with less than 500,000 yearly visitors,” Laura Studarus writes. Los Angeles Times reporter Lila Seidman recently detailed her own adventure there: “There’s a 2,000-pound elephant seal outside our tent.” Daily Beast


California holds 70% of the country’s priciest ZIP Codes for home buyers. Home prices across the country soared during the pandemic. But at the top of the market, California kept its crown as the priciest state in the nation — by far. A new study from PropertyShark found that California holds 89 of the 127 most expensive ZIP Codes in the country, or roughly 70%. That’s three percentage points more than the lion’s share it held last year. For the fifth straight year, the Silicon Valley suburb of Atherton was the tip-top ZIP Code, with a median sales price of $7.475 million. Los Angeles Times


‘I couldn’t believe what they were saying.’ In recent years, Wells Fargo has been accused of signing up millions of people for accounts they didn’t want, improperly repossessing cars of service members and charging customers for insurance they didn’t ask for, all of which has resulted in billions of dollars in fines. Now the company, which has a headquarters in San Francisco, is under scrutiny for charging customers fees to move money from one division within the bank to another. But Wells Fargo isn’t alone in reaching into people’s pockets with nickel-and-dime fees, as opposed to its traditional focus on loan interest. Los Angeles Times

A sign is posted at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

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Los Angeles: Sunny, 84 San Diego: Overcast, 81 San Francisco: Sunny 66 San Jose: 73 Fresno: 67 Sacramento: 64


Famous birthdays:

Scarlett Johansson was born Nov. 22, 1984. The Times wrote that her lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. “could have an immortal legacy in Hollywood.”

Michael K. Williams was born Nov. 22, 1966. He died Sept. 6. Senior writer, culture and representation, Greg Braxton wrote of the actor: “I never stopped being awed by Michael’s incredible talent, magnetism and strength, both as an artist and as a person.”

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