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Tuolumne County Not A ‘Sanctuary’ Jurisdiction

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Sonora, CA – Following in the footsteps of some other counties in the state, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted to declare that the county’s policies comply with federal immigration laws and the county does not constitute a “sanctuary” jurisdiction.

The move is in reaction to the enactment of SB 54 which made California the first ‘sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants. The board requested stats from Sheriff Jim Mele who relayed, “Our research shows that within the last 18 months we’ve had five bookings of illegal aliens…one person was booked three times. So that is a one-five hundredth of a percent of all my bookings.” While he noted he is against the state law for public safety reasons, Sheriff Mele stated, “We have already been doing what other sheriffs have been doing and that is giving information of who is in our jail. That is public information. We don’t categorize people as illegal or legal and so on and so forth.”

A handful of citizens spoke at the meeting with one Columbia resident suggesting the county take it a further step and deny county permits to employers who hire illegal immigrants. The rest voiced opposition to the declaration. One woman detailed how she keeps her passport on her now because she is afraid of being stopped. Sonora resident Carol Doud noting the small number given by the sheriff commented, “I don’t think we have a huge problem in this county with illegals coming here and doing illegal activities. This just sends a statement to our community residents that we’re paranoid, shortsighted, petty and mean.”

The board’s declaration vote was requested by two supervisors, District 2 Randy Hanvelt and District 5 Karl Rodefer, who both oppose the state law. In explaining his objection, Rodefer detailed, “We’re not changing anything. We’re not going to run out and start arresting and deporting people….this is merely a statement that we don’t support the concept of sanctuary entities.” He further commented, “The reason that we don’t support it is because we are a nation of laws and our law enforcement should be able to cooperate with any other level of law enforcement.”

One person asked that a task force including residents be set up to discuss the issue, but the board rejected that idea voting unanimously in favor of the declaration, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

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