Judicial Watch Seeks Permanent Injunction Against California County’s Sanctuary Policy

August 28, 2019 Updated: August 29, 2019

Nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch stated it has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court seeking a permanent injunction to bar Santa Clara County officials from enforcing a sanctuary policy that protects illegal aliens accused of heinous crimes.

Filed Aug. 28 on behalf of Santa Clara County taxpayer Howard Myers, the suit requests an injunction against Sheriff Laurie Smith and Rick Sung, acting chief of corrections.

The injunction would prevent Smith and Sung “from expending taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources on a recently enacted policy that requires federal immigration officials to obtain a judicial warrant before an alien in Santa Clara County’s custody may be transferred to federal immigration officials’ custody for removal from the United States.”

The suit was prompted by the refusal of county officials to cooperate with efforts by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take into custody Carlos Arevalo-Carranza, 24, an illegal alien accused in the brutal Feb. 28 murder of county resident Bambi Larson.

Larson, 59, died from multiple “deep wounds consistent with a cutting tool,” according to court documents.

Several weeks after Larson’s murder, Arevalo-Carranza was arrested by local law enforcement “and charged with Ms. Larson’s murder. Mr. 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,” Judicial Watch told the court in its filing.

“He also reportedly had multiple, prior arrests in 2015-18 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 Ms. Larson’s death, Arevalo-Carranza reportedly was on probation for possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine, false imprisonment, and burglary,” according to the suit.

Arevalo-Carranza reportedly had in his possession a seven-inch knife at the time of his arrest. Crime investigators matched a bloody footprint in Larson’s home with shoes worn by Arevalo-Carranza.

Federal officials had on six prior occasions asked county officials when Arevalo-Carranza was about to be released to hold him long enough for ICE officers to take him into custody for deportation and removal from the country.

“Each request was ignored pursuant to Santa Clara County’s longstanding policy of not honoring ICE detainers,” Judicial Watch wrote in the suit.

“Had Santa Clara County allowed ICE to take custody of Mr. Arevalo-Carranza, it is unlikely he would have had the opportunity to kill Ms. Larson,” Judicial Watch stated.

The nonprofit argued in its suit that the injunction should be granted because the county’s sanctuary policy is an “illegal local regulation of immigration” that is “preempted by federal law,” and “barred by the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.”

The doctrine, intended to prevent state governments from limiting the central government’s sovereignty, was developed during the period prior to the Civil War, when Southern states claimed the authority to nullify selected federal laws.

Judicial Watch told the court that Smith and Sung “are developing transfer procedures that prohibit the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Correction from transferring an inmate to ICE’s custody when presented with an administrative warrant representing that ICE has determined there is probable cause to believe the inmate is a removable alien.”

Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, wrote in a statement announcing the suit that “sanctuary policies are illegal and deadly … 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.”

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) spokesman Matthew Tragesser told The Epoch Times on Aug. 28 that his organization supports litigation aimed at sanctuary policies.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions jeopardize public safety by restricting local and state police from cooperating with federal immigration officials. This shields illegal aliens from removal—including those who are criminals,” Tragresser said.

“Instead of being removed from the country, they often just end up back on the streets, recommitting crimes against innocent Americans or legal residents,” he said.

Judicial Watch previously filed suit against San Francisco in the wake of the Kate Steinle murder case involving illegal alien Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.

Contact Mark Tapscott at mark.tapscott@epochtimes.nyc