California Sheriff Agrees to Share Jail Records With ICE, Says Subpoenas Should Be Honored

February 22, 2020 Updated: February 22, 2020

SAN DIEGO—The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will share records of people who were criminally arrested with immigration authorities, becoming the first local law enforcement agency in five states to comply with unusual demands for information, authorities said Friday.

“A truly authorized federal administrative subpoena has to be honored,” sheriff Bill Gore told NBC 7 San Diego.

In recent weeks, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued “administrative subpoenas”—signed by an immigration official, not a judge—to state and local law enforcement agencies in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and California.

Gore’s announcement, in a statement from his department late Thursday, came less than a week after ICE issued four subpoenas, the only ones so far in California. The agency is the first in all five states to comply with the requests, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.

The demands for information are among several recent moves by the Trump administration against what it considers “sanctuary” jurisdictions, which adopt laws and policies to limit cooperation with immigration authorities.

“While the Sheriff’s Department does not enforce immigration laws, we are obligated to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas,” the department statement read.

The department said a state law that sharply limits cooperation with immigration authorities does not explicitly address subpoenas. It said previous requests for information have been voluntary.

“A federal subpoena creates a mandatory legal obligation and is not ‘cooperation,’” the statement read.

The office of California’s Democratic attorney general, Xavier Becerra, declined to comment.

Gore is a Republican elected to an officially nonpartisan position and a former head of the FBI’s San Diego office. He isn’t known as a firebrand on immigration.

Robert Brewer, the U.S. attorney in San Diego, said the sheriff’s department complied with two subpoenas that were due this week. Information on two others is due next week.

ICE issued its latest round of subpoenas Friday to several agencies in Oregon—the Oregon State Police, Hillsboro Police Department, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

By Elliot Spagat