Hutchens: OC Sheriff Clarifies OCSD’s Role in Immigration Enforcement

As immigration policy has taken front and center over the past few weeks, debate continues and questions from the public proliferate. As your Sheriff, I do not determine immigration policy, and I will leave discussion on the merits of proposals to the Congress and the President. However, I want to clarify the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s role in the enforcement of immigration law.

Enforcing immigration law is a federal government responsibility. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department does not play a role in the enforcement of these laws, and it is not part of our primary mission. As we patrol our communities, deputies are focused on criminal violations of state and local law. We enforce these laws equally, without bias, and without regard for one’s immigration status. In carrying out our duties, we do not ask the immigration status of suspects, witnesses, or those who call to report crimes. To reiterate: The Sheriff’s Department will provide for your safety and respond to your call for service without concern for your immigration status.

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers carry out their duties in our communities, but the Sheriff’s Department does not play a role in their day-to-day work. We have a similar relationship with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP takes responsibility for traffic enforcement on the highways that run through our communities. The Sheriff’s Department is not statutorily charged with that function or budgeted with the financial resources to perform such a role. Similarly, ICE is legally charged and funded to enforce immigration law. Tasking my deputies with immigration enforcement would be a duplication of efforts and a diversion of our scarce resources.

There is a significant way OCSD works with ICE, and that is with regards to our custody operations. Those who are booked into our jails are screened for their immigration status. ICE is notified of undocumented individuals in our custody who have been convicted of serious offenses, such as murder or rape. Once one of these convicted criminals serves their sentence, ICE is able to take them into their custody. This practice has been in place for a number of years and is in keeping with California’s TRUST Act, which allows for cooperation with ICE on specified serious offenses.

In 2016, 57,123 people were booked into our county jail from various law enforcement agencies. Deputies identified 391 inmates who would qualify under the TRUST Act for an ICE detainer.

These individuals represent less than 1% of total jail bookings. Their charges ranged from homicide, rape and possession of weapons, to driving while under the influence.

Rhetoric on immigration can be emotional, confusing and, at times, contain misinformation. Do not let misleading headlines distort the reality of local law enforcement’s role. In simple terms, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department does not participate directly in field-level immigration enforcement, but we work with federal partners through our custody operations to ensure violent offenders are held accountable for all charges they face.

These offenders pose a significant risk to our communities and removing them is consistent with the department’s mission to enhance public safety for ALL Orange County residents. These offenders do not discriminate in who they perpetrate their crimes against, and we must not hesitate to take advantage of every opportunity to keep them out of our neighborhoods.

Sandra Hutchens, Orange County Sheriff 

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at

  • Brad

    Hutchens seems to say one thing and do another. In The March 11th Orange County Register I found this article “Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens asks Trump administration to help her hold undocumented immigrants.” The article is available here:
    This after another OC Register article of March 8th “Immigrant inmates given rotten meat, 24-hour solitary at Orange County jail, watchdog finds.” The article is here:
    Attempting to buck California law and the 4th amendment while offering to provide subhuman detention services is not the kind of law enforcement I want to support.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Good. Stay out of Crybaby Trump and his diversion campaign.

  • verifiedsane

    Disgraced Snitch Scandal Sandra is already kicking off her next election campaign….Let’s hope that at least 51% of the voters hold her accountable for her many lies and crimes this time around. 🙂

    • LFOldTimer

      I don’t think she’ll run again. It would be a true act of hubris on her part to do so. Enough is enough.

      I would love for Sheriff Joe Arpaio to come to OC.

      The thought of inmates dressed in pink warms my heart.

      • verifiedsane

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised. These power hungry political animals don’t just go away; they just slither around in the darkness awaiting their next prey.

        Plus, She is already snuggling up to Spitzer in order to keep the rein of political criminal corruption running like an energizer bunny on crack.

        • LFOldTimer

          That’s all we need. Luigi and Pupetta running the OC justice system.

  • LFOldTimer

    “In 2016, 57,123 people were booked into our county jail from various law enforcement agencies. Deputies identified 391 inmates who would qualify under the TRUST Act for an ICE detainer.

    These individuals represent less than 1% of total jail bookings. Their charges ranged from homicide, rape and possession of weapons, to driving while under the influence.”

    The Trust Act is a farce and any cop worth his or her salt would concur.

    Criminals who commit bad crimes (misdemeanors and non-violent felonies) over and above immigration crimes are ignored by the Trust Act and released back into our community after they’ve finished their jail sentence.

    The OC Register reported in 2015 that illegal aliens account for about 10% of OC’s population. The actual number was 313,000.

    So if 391 illegals qualified under the Trust Act for transfer to ICE that would account for about 1/100th of the total OC illegal population. ha.

    Chances are good that you probably booked between 5,000 or 10,000 of illegals into your jail and released all but 391 back out onto the streets of OC so those illegal foreigners could commit even more crimes against OC citizens and legal residents.

    Boy, that sure makes me feel safe.

    This is what the ACLU website says with regard to the limitations of holding an illegal alien jailed in California, per the Trust Act:

    “You CANNOT be held for immigration

    *If you are arrested for or convicted of a minor offense (traffic offenses, trespassing, resisting arrest, or others).

    *A domestic violence arrest is not enough for you to be held for immigration.

    *For driving under the influence (DUI), you cannot be held for immigration on a misdemeanor (minor) arrest or conviction.”

    What a farce. So an illegal alien can beat his wife or significant other and under the Trust Act you have to release him back onto the OC streets after he’s taken into custody and jailed. ha.

    So much for women’s rights, eh Sheriff?

    Btw, does your Agency still sponsor those programs (w/ taxpayer dollars) in non-English speaking neighborhoods to acclimate “immigrants” into our community?

    Part of the problem or part of the solution??? 🙂

  • LFOldTimer

    Hey Sandra-

    You sure cooperate with the Feds by housing illegals in your jail for the “Beds for Feds” program. But naturally you make a ton of money off that program which allows you to keep high staff employment in your jails. So you cooperate with the Feds as long as it benefits you. Otherwise, you refuse cooperation, even if the illegals are, by definition, criminals who broke into the country and steal jobs from US citizens and legal immigrants. Btw, an unauthorized foreigner who holds a job in California is in violation of State labor laws. But I guess you turn a blind eye to that too. How about identity theft? That’s a violation of the State penal code. That’s not your job either?

    If one of your deputies stops a car and sees counterfeit currency printing plates on the back seat – does he ignore it?

    If a Federal bank is robbed do your deputies refuse to respond to a holdup in progress?

    If someone is kidnapped across state lines do you refuse to assist in the investigation?

    If there is a warrant out for the arrest of a Federal tax evader – do your deputies refuse to detain or arrest him for transfer to Federal authorities?

    Refusal to assist the Feds in enforcing illegal immigration is IMO a dereliction of duty. Illegal foreigners are criminals and police officers (regardless of local, state or Federal) are sworn to protect the public from criminals. Turning a blind eye is not protection.

    How would you like it if someone committed a crime in Orange County in violation of State law and was located in an adjacent state by the Feds – who refused to cooperate with your police agency by taking him into custody and holding him until your detectives picked him up?

    Put the shoe on the other foot. How does it feel?