OC Sheriff Wants to Expand Immigration Detention in County Jails

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens speaks to county supervisors in 2013. (Photo by Nick Gerda/Voice of OC)

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is seeking permission from the Board of Supervisors to expand the number of federal immigration detainees who can be held in county jails.

The move would offset more than half the capacity U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lost when actions by Santa Ana officials prompted the federal agency to cancel its city jail contract.

The expansion “will allow the Sheriff to accommodate a larger ICE bed capacity for detainees when needed,” according to a report by Hutchens’ staff.

If approved by supervisors at their public meeting Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Department would be allowed to hold an additional 120 immigration detainees at a time, increasing the maximum capacity for ICE detainees in the county’s jails from 838 to 958.

The Santa Ana City Council voted in December to reduce the ICE bed capacity for the city jail from 200 detainees to 128, before phasing out the ICE contract entirely.

ICE responded in February by canceling its Santa Ana contract. As the City Council tries to fill an $11 million hole in the budget from losing the contract, city officials are now looking at converting part of the mostly-empty jail into a mental health center.

The Sheriff’s Department expansion would bring the county an extra $5 million per year without a need for additional staff “at this time,” according to the sheriff’s staff report.

ICE pays the county $118 per day for each immigration detainee held in county jails, and the expansion would increase county income from the contract from the current $22 million to $27 million, according to the sheriff’s department.

The sheriff’s request comes as President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up efforts to deport immigrants in the U.S. illegally, particularly those accused of crimes. Trump’s expansion of deportations is expected to require additional space to detain those arrested by ICE.

Hutchens says her deputies do not, and will not, enforce immigration laws in local communities. But she has publicly supported an expanded role for county jails in holding federal immigration detainees, saying fewer criminals would be released into communities.

Among other steps, she has spoken out against a state bill that would limit local law enforcement from helping federal officials enforce immigration laws, saying the sheriff’s department would take a major budget hit from losing the ICE contract.

Hutchens also traveled to Washington in February to meet with the president and top Trump Administration officials, and offered additional help to the administration to hold unauthorized immigrants.

Among the Trump Administration officials Hutchens offered extra assistance in detaining undocumented immigrants is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has advocated expanded deportations. Hutchens spoke with Sessions directly over the phone, according to the Orange County Register.

At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice, which Sessions oversees, is investigating whether Hutchens’ department has a pattern of civil rights violations connected to misuse of jailhouse informants and alleged withholding of key records from courts.

The federal investigation of the jailhouse snitch scandal was announced in December before Trump became president, and soon after a state appeals court found Hutchens’ department repeatedly violated detainees’ civil rights through an illegal informants program.

Hutchens went to Washington in her role as president of the Major County Sheriffs of America, an association of elected sheriffs who collectively serve over 100 million people.

Just before her trip, Hutchens’ staff confirmed they had dropped their request for nearly $130,000 in compensation from Trump’s campaign for law enforcement services at a rally he held in Costa Mesa last April.

During her trip, President Trump gave a speech on Feb. 8 in which he thanked Hutchens for her leadership, said she’s “had great service,” and called her “legendary.”

At the end of February, Sessions announced his department will “pull back” from civil rights investigations into local law enforcement, saying such efforts have made communities less safe. It’s unknown if that decision will affect the investigation of the Sheriff’s Department and OC District Attorney’s Office.

But in March, after U.S. U.S. Attorney General Eileen Decker and 45 other U.S. attorneys were asked to resign by Trump, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Central District of California office in Los Angeles said it would not affect the investigation.

“The investigation is continuing,” said spokesman Thom Mrozek in a brief email statement. “The departure of the U.S. Attorney will not affect the investigation.”

The Board of Supervisors meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the county Hall of Administration in Santa Ana, with public comments heard at the beginning.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • verifiedsane

    This has the smell of Sheriff Hutchens playing money politics with the law…….the Sheriff’s Department have shown time and time again with the BoS blessing, that they are corrupt to their very core…citizens would do well to question everything they do with a healthy dose of skepticism; especially considering their documented history of ignoring the law…It appears that Hutchens & Spitzer are already campaigning and relying on the voting public developing a very bad case of amnesia before the next election…

  • Synchronized

    Kudos to Sheriff Hutchens! Finally someone who is willing to do the right thing for its citizens, and not follow what’s politically correct as advocated by the politicians and the media. Just look at FBI’s Most Wanted web page under Murder, to see what’s really going on in our society.

  • B Dalton

    The Board of Supervisors approves hiring an “expert” in “constitutional policing” to help her do her basic job, and nobody will say the very obvious point that she CAN NOT do her job. She refuses Judge orders for release of records and he doesn’t “jail” her for slow rolling him, the OCSD is nothing but half a step above the criminals she keeps in the County Jails.

    • LFOldTimer

      Ironic, isn’t it, Mr Dalton?

      A sworn Sheriff defying the orders of a Superior Court Judge.

      If you or I did that the Sheriff would send her deputies out to hook us up.

      Welcome to the alternate universe.

  • buzzookaman

    Anyone who wants to come here has a right to be here just like those already here.

    • LFOldTimer

      So how do we feed, clothe, shelter, educate and provide medical care (free) to 100’s of thousands of illiterate indigents from all 4 corners of the earth? Will Jesus return to earth and perform a miracle?

      Or have you thought that far in advance?

      • buzzookaman

        Same as when your ancestors came here

        • LFOldTimer

          When my ancestors came here there was no such thing as welfare or safety nets. You either swam or sank. Today even illegal immigrants are entitled to free healthcare, free education and many free housing and food. Not only that, some cities and counties pay for their civil lawyers to fight their civil deportation cases. More rights than you have! lol.

          Besides, my ancestors were screened and entered the country legally. So your comparison is completely off the mark. Nice try though.

          You still didn’t answer my question. When 100’s of thousands of indigent illegals from all 4 corners of the planet come here – who’s going to pay for it all?


          • buzzookaman

            Sink or swim… Your family must have been the right color or well connected . Did they have a place to stay, a job and food to eat ? If they are like my family there was no welfare because they did not pay taxes back then. But there were churches and others who would help new immigrants and others, including indigenous, in their time of need. Investing in waves of immigrants tends to lead to periods of economic boom and a country our size that prints it’s own never ending supply money should be more concerned with the care of people, not going to war, and it should have little problem absorbing 100’s of thousands if not millions of people, most of whom end up being productive. I don’t have a problem using our taxes or charitable contributions to help the less fortunate , not lazy, but true poor and unfortunate. I have a problem supporting a warmongering government that we have now that benefits the wealthy sacrificing the young and gullible. So to answer your question, prioritizing people ahead of profit. Quit spending trillions on a bloated military and wars based on lies and spend it on healthcare and education. It does not take a miracle to help. Just takes determination and commitment

          • LFOldTimer

            “Sink or swim… Your family must have been the right color or well connected .

            There ya go. Playing that old worn out race card again, which heavily discounts the credibility of your entire comment. This nation has welcomed LEGAL immigrants from all 4 corners of the earth – of all socioeconomic classes (many many poor people), of all skin colors, with absolutely no inside connections. My grandparents were dirt poor. They came here with only the shirts on their backs. but they came here LEGALLY through Ellis Island. They had to pass a series of test (medical, mental, etc…) and their backgrounds were screened thoroughly before they were admitted. That is what all nations do, buzzookaman. You should travel a bit and learn about how the other half lives instead of tossing out barbs and lodging personal attacks that really have no basis in fact.

            This is what you folks just can’t seem to comprehend for some odd reason. Most of us Americans (to include myself) love immigrants who play by the rules and come here legally when we have room for them. We just can’t stand lawbreakers who cut in front of the line of those who apply to come here by rule of law. We are civilized people. Those who advocate for the reverse are aiding and abetting criminals and encourage chaos in our society. It’s just the truth and many of you can’t handle because it makes you look into the mirror.

            You have a REAL problem deciphering between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants. You won’t even do it. Collectively you avoid it because in your hearts you know you’re on the wrong side of the argument.

            I don’t like spending a gazillion amount of tax dollars on the military or regime change or nation building either. And I’m a vet who put his life on the line for this country. But bring up military spending is only a diversion from the subject of ILLEGAL immigration – that you won’t even address. You twist the discussion into a blanket subject on all immigration when WE who oppose ILLEGAL immigration want to focus on that part of the equation. But you folks disingenuously avoid it like the plague. And that’s the reason you have zero credibility with me.

          • buzzookaman

            Thank you for proving my point when you said your grandparents came dirt poor with nothing but the shirts on their backs. They received help when they got here from some one in some way, large or small.

          • LFOldTimer

            Read my lips, buzzookaman:


            They didn’t leach off the taxpayers. All the LEGAL immigrants helped one another get by. See how it worked?

            And you’ll continue to AVOID and REFUSE to address that ILLEGAL vs. LEGAL immigration issue. Which tells me that you know you’re wrong and wish to skirt the subject matter altogether.

            Enjoy the rest of your day.

          • verifiedsane

            These open border leftist just don’t get the very simple concept and vast difference between legal and illegal immigration….it’s like they are all missing any semblance of critical thinking and rational thought brain cells…it’s really like talking to a wall…just a waste of time…guess what Dumocrats, elections have consequences! So go wear your silly pink hats, march in goose step until the cows come home, and whine & cry all you want until your rainbow faced….it just shows how completely out of touch you & your party are with the greater voting populous of America….

          • verifiedsane

            “Sink or swim… Your family must have been the right color or well connected” – how ironic and tragically sad how the far left Socialist/Dumocrat/Anarchist are the real racist and fascist that are always pointing accusing fingers at the good & civil law abiding citizens by calling them the bigots, racist, and fascist….I gather they are under the silly false impression that if they utter these propaganda nonsense lies enough times, it will somehow magically become truth. They are so very very wrong!!!

    • verifiedsane

      buzzookaman is just another open borders socialist/anarchist; who wouldn’t know actual reality if it smacked them up side the head….why don’t you go visit Venezuela, and then come back here and tell us how wonderful tyrannical socialist rule is…. 🙂

      • buzzookaman

        Good thing for you the native Indians didn’t share your opinion or you would still be in your moms basement overseas.

        • verifiedsane

          Are you really that dumb buzzookaman?…or do you just play totally ignorant in comment sections seeking negative attention…..your liberal gibberish, rewrites of history, & silly hypocritical blame games are completely detached from actual reality… 🙂

  • Steve Downing

    She can’t manage what she has. This is bootlicking at its best. A federal appointmentment is on the horizon.

  • Yvonne Hatch

    Expand & hold more ??? Give me a break…deport them….turn them over to ICE LIKE THE FEDERAL LAWS STATE…!!…THEY ARE ILLEGAL CRIMINALS! ! THIS IS AMERICA !!!!!

    • LFOldTimer

      Be careful, Yvonne. They’ll call you a ‘racist’ and a ‘bigot’ for just wanting your borders protected and your immigration laws enforced, like all other sovereign nations protect their borders and enforce their immigration laws.

      It’s opposite day in America, Yvonne. Nothing is as it appears. It’s like we’re walking through a house of mirrors with continuous distortion and lies. No longer can you believe your own eyes. The law?? ha! What’s that? It’s only enforced against those who have the nerve to speak the truth or the little people who have no political clout or power.

      Illegals have MORE rights now than you do. Certain cities and counties are paying (with taxpayer dollars) for CIVIL ATTORNEYS to represent the illegals in deportation court – which is a CIVIL, not a criminal matter.

      Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

      • Yvonne Hatch

        Exactly Sir….well I don’t care what they call me…I do want our laws enforced…& our borders closed. ..This is America. ..We are losing our laws to the Liberal left…More Conservatives need to speak up…I will never stop. ..I love my country and my President who wants to enforce those laws. ..!!…GOD BLESS AMERICA !!

        • buzzookaman

          ^^ Are you a Christian ? Not acting like it. What would Jesus do ? Brainwashing by the establishment has you scared of your own shadow. If you want to support a warmongering system, and that includes pumpkin president, go right ahead. Hypocritical much ?

          • Yvonne Hatch

            Are U an American Citizen ??? I’m a proud legal American Republican citizen….!! GO TRUMP…!!

          • buzzookaman

            Absolutely American born and raised and not afraid to call bullshit where I see it. Answer my question please. Are you a Christian ?

          • Yvonne Hatch

            Yes Sir…born & raised a Catholic. …but what does religion have to do with the laws of the USA being enforced ????

          • buzzookaman

            Asking what religion has to do with this is exactly my point. Do you remember anything from your Catholic upbringing because it sounds like you are full of hate and selfishness. You got yours now screw everyone else. Christian, I think not.

          • Yvonne Hatch

            I worked for mine Sir , Never got any freebies, like food stamps , subsidized housing, welfare , free education…free medical….& paid my taxes…I’m not against legal immigration but I’m totally against illegal immigration and think we should close our borders….& let ICE DEPORT ILLEGAL CRIMINALS. ..THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTIANITY BUT WITH THE LAWS OF THE USA….& OUR CONSTITUTION GIVES ME THE RIGHT TO SPEAK THIS…..

          • LFOldTimer

            Besides, the Christian religion teaches us to obey the laws of the land, not to break the laws. Maybe buzzookaman forgot about what the good book says.

        • LFOldTimer

          It’s nice to hear from a real American who is concerned about the decline of our country and who wants to put other Americans (and legal immigrants) first, Yvonne.

          Thank you for sharing.

  • LFOldTimer

    So now Santa Ana’s loss is the county’s gain. See how that works? Santa Ana is holding a debt of over $20M on their jail which is going to have a lot of empty space. Maybe they can turn it into an indoor swap meet location on the weekends to compete with the fairgrounds. Are the activists going to protest the proposal for the city to turn the jail into an insane asylum – after all, those mentally ill patients are going to be incarcerated and held against their will. Don’t the liberals believe they have rights too? Isn’t it inhumane to jail them? Where is the ACLU?

    Btw, don’t get the impression that Hutchen’s is anti-illegal immigration. Nothing is further from the truth. This is all about the money, honey. Her eyeballs see dollar signs. That’s the extent of it. I’ve spoken to some of her deputies. She’s goes very light on illegals, even when they are caught breaking laws over and above Federal immigration laws. It’s getting to the point that they have more rights than we do. So don’t let her fool you. She doesn’t fool me.