I agree with Sheriff Bolanos’ decision last week changing department policy to stop cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Our community is healthier and safer for it.

In my work with the San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, I have gotten to know families impacted by the old policy of ICE transfers. The people transferred to ICE do not exist in isolation. They frequently are breadwinners who leave behind U.S. citizen children, spouses and parents who rely on them for financial and emotional support. The entire community is impacted as well by the family’s urgent financial needs and psychological trauma in the wake of an ICE transfer.

The old policy was dangerous. The sheriff had to rely on ICE to verify immigration status, and ICE regularly gets it wrong. A CATO Institute study estimates that ICE has wrongly targeted approximately 20,000 U.S. citizens for ICE detention or deportation. It also was counterproductive; the presence of ICE erodes trust and confidence in ALL law enforcement, making victims less likely to report crime.

Nearly every other Bay Area county has stopped making ICE transfers. Our county now joins them in improving our collective wellness. I look forward to seeing the decision reflected in the Sheriff’s Office policy manual and urge the Board of Supervisors to reinforce their unanimous support for this policy change by passing a resolution.

Beth von Emster


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(4) comments

Ray Fowler

Good morning, Beth

You live in Belmont. What would happen if one of your neighbors entered a foreign country without permission then committed a crime in that country? Would they be allowed to avoid being transferred to the legal authority designated to decide whether they should face prosecution or deportation? It's more likely they would be cooling their heels in custody for a long time. Maybe not. However, it's a pretty safe bet there would be no local protesters clamoring for your neighbor's release.

Do you really feel Sheriff Bolanos' decision to halt transfers to ICE makes our community safer? If so, how?

Terence Y

Ms. von Emster – perhaps you should get to know families impacted by the crimes committed against them by these folks in our country illegally. The victim’s families are impacted as well as their family’s urgent financial needs and psychological trauma in the event of being victimized because an ICE transfer was not performed. I’m not too sure these victims or their families are going to thank you for aiding and abetting fugitives of the law. I wonder if victims can sue the coalition for damages due their harboring of fugitives. BTW, the presence of ICE engenders trust and confidence in ALL law enforcement. The presence of released felons back into the wild erodes trust and confidence in our country and our system of laws.

Dirk van Ulden

Well Beth, if these folks had not committed a crime or crimes they would not have been isolated from their families. You are irrational. What about the convicted criminals in this country who go to jail and leave their families destitute? Let them out too? Why should immigrants be treated differently in your opinion? A case of a bleeding heart?


Great point! I believe the true reason Bolanos suddenly reversed course on this policy, is he's up for re-election next year. His opponent is a Hispanic women.

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