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Sheriff: "I Will Decide Which Law to Break"

Proposed state immigration law in conflict with federal immigration mandate.

s said he will wait to see if a proposed state immigration act is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown before deciding whether to uphold it in defiance of a federal mandate -- or ignore it and adhere to federal law.

"If it is signed by the governor, I will decide then which law to break," Freitas told a crowd of about 75 people at a Town Hall in Healdsburg Thursday night.

It was the second annual Town Hall organized by  where Freitas was the guest of honor.

Responding to a question from Healdsburg attorney  Freitas said the  Trust Act, if signed by Brown, would allow local law enforcement to release undocumented immigrants who are being held on a federal detainer if they are not serious offenders and are non-violent.

The Trust Act cleared the state legislature earlier this month.

Freitas said he hopes the matter is resolved in the courts before he has to choose whether to violate either statute.

"I hope some sheriff goes to a judge to ask for relief," said Freitas, who declined to state his preference in advance on which law to uphold in an article on the issue earlier this month in the Los Angeles Times.

"I don't think a sheriff should say in advance that we'll violate any law," Freitas said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca says he plans to stick with the federal law, which allows law enforcement to detain people, even if they have not committed a serious crime.

Freitas and other sheriffs say that puts  them in a difficult position by forcing them to renege on their obligations under the federal Secure Communities program, which deported about 400,000 undocumented immigrants in 2011.

"It would make me break either federal or state law. I would have to pick which one to break,"  Freitas is quoted as saying.

Healdsburg resident urged Freitas "to the extent possible," to lean in the direction of releasing immigrants who are "good members of the community and non-violent" from being detained.

"I would ask that you let them go," Nuese said. "Why continue to have that drain on our resources?"

In other announcements by Freitas on Thursday, assaults on staff or other inmates at Sonoma County Jail are up 50 percent since Oct. 1, 2011, when the state ordered a realignment of the prison system.

Freitas said the result of the realignment is that inmates who are serving longer prison terms now are coming to Sonoma County Jail, which was originally meant for inmates serving one year or less. As a result, the longer-term inmates tend to develop more gang activity within the jail.

The realignment also sent Sonoma County parollees back home into the care and jurisdiction of Sonoma County parole and probation department, rather than the state. He said there are about 200 parollees who have been returned to the county.

In the good news department, Freitas said crime is down significantly in the county this year over the same period in 2011. 

Freitas, a former Windsor Police Chief who took the county office in January 2011, said he has forged good working relationships between his department and smaller Sonoma County cities.

"It used to be that the sheriff's department and the small cities parted ways at times," he said. "That has stopped -- if Healdsburg needs help, if Cotati needs help, if Cloverdale needs help, we're there."

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Bradford A Morris September 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Anybody who supports any immigrants that is not legal should be help responsible for damages and or send out of this country as they are not true Americans. Here is an example: I have seen my business fold after 22 years mostly due to support of theses people being hired under the table. I Have looked to close the bussiness yet I am hanging on how going down the tube faster everyday. I have looked for work with education certifactions, skills and being an American who speaks english,and I can not get hired when I know the workers where I applied are either non speaking english, not legal, getting additional support from goverment programs when they could do without. You supporters --- your crushing your own country, are you all nuts??????????????????????? Wait untill you see it directly effects you!!!
tony September 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Bradford, which Native American Tribe are your ancestors from? See, because True Americans...........
Bill Fishman September 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Tough choice, and well-stated by the Sheriff. But, of course, the same choice applies to the disparity between the State and Federal laws on marijuana.
Bill Fishman September 02, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Tough about the job situation, Brad. But would you hire somebody who you knew wouldn't get along with half of the other workers on the job? Think about it. Keep looking. Don't blame others. Look inside yourself. Chill out. Something will turn up.
Bradford A Morris September 02, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Mr. Fishman are you impling I would not get along with other? If you are and since you do not know me personally you are completely out of line and making a statement with intent to slander my character. Perhaps you should retract your statement. I do not appreciate your implied comments. This is a public forum for opinions about specific topics. Making such a statement is inappropriate and could be construed as an apparent attack at me directly since you used my name. Please refrain from any such personal statement and stick to the topics.
SP September 02, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Brad, I think Fishman was trying to be cool. Once you enter into a public forum and espouse your opinions you open yourself up for compliments and criticisms, it's just a fact. I agree with you on your original post and wish you good luck and great success.
Bradford A Morris September 02, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Thank You SP
The Fool September 03, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Maybe if we had a sane immigration policy, sir, you wouldn't have people working under the table. Don't blame anybody for being anti-American when it's our own laws that work to maintain that underclass. And so long as we all want cheaply-produced food and labor, much like the drug "problem," we are pointing to others what could be our own, collective doing.
Xyzzy September 03, 2012 at 06:52 AM
If businesses hadn't been allowed to export jobs overseas and rely so heavily on a mix of illegal immigrants & H1B workers working for peanuts, wages for the working/middle class would have remained high enough that the vast majority of citizens could afford the resulting higher cost of buying things from other businesses. That's how it always used to work: American citizens were paid a living wage for a reasonable number of hours and thus could spend more at other businesses that paid a living wage. Those higher wages also meant far more being collected in overall income taxes, which gave society much nicer roads, schools, and services than we have now. In addition to that, the higher wages & having far fewer poor non-English-speaking immigrants meant that society didn't have to spend remotely as much on reduced-cost/free medical clinics or free emergency room visits, ESL teachers (which cost more than regular ones and have far lower student:teacher ratios), putting violent gang members in jail, or other costs linked to uneducated low-income immigrants.
Bradford A Morris September 03, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I like to say to Mr Ludd,SP and Xyzzy thank you for being right on! I am proud that I stand up for what is right to keep my morals and integrity. If others want to make slanderous coments about me they should practice what they preach. I do not aid people for money at any risk to hurt others or are country. Think about it!

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