Under the Constitution, anyone who is accused of a crime, regardless of immigration status, must go through trial by jury to determine guilt or innocence, and to receive sentencing if they are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Then, they serve their sentence, and (in theory) their debt to society is paid. Our current sanctuary policy ensures that everyone accused of a crime goes through this process and that the judge and jury can use their constitutionally protected authority to determine the best course of action.
In contrast, in the absence of sanctuary policies, due process would not be followed uniformly. Immigrants who have already served their time after a conviction may be picked up by ICE upon their release and would face additional punishments, such as indefinite detention, outside of due process. This additional punishment that hinges on immigration status is referred to as "double jeopardy." A U.S. citizen who committed the same crime would not be subject to this inhumane treatment, and their punishment would be limited to whatever is determined in the course of the judicial process.
To quote Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, "People who commit crimes in the county should be brought to justice in our local system. Their punishment should turn on the crime they committed, as opposed to their immigration status."
Anyone who supports trial by jury should therefore support sanctuary policies, which protect our criminal justice system.
In addition to maintaining a strong criminal justice system, sanctuary policies also prevent the rampant human rights abuses committed by ICE from happening in our community. ICE often holds people indefinitely in inhumane conditions without even a bail hearing and has been implicated in the physical and sexual abuse, and even death, of people in their custody. In our own county, immigrants were detained without access to legal representation, food or water in an incident in Morgan Hill in December. This treatment was cruel and, again, violated the right of due process.
A recent Supreme Court case ruled that ICE may capture and indefinitely detain people who have already served their time even for minor crimes committed years ago, and this paves the way for even more abuse of immigrants in our community. As Justice Stephen Breyer stated in his dissent, people "may ... be detained for months, sometimes years, without the possibility of release; they may have been convicted of only minor crimes ... and they sometimes may be innocent spouses or children of a suspect person."
Breyer's last point sheds light on the fact that policies that seem to target people who have committed crimes still provide more opportunities for ICE to detain and abuse other people, including children. This point is especially important given the recent revelations of the abuse and even death of children in ICE custody.
A vote to maintain Santa Clara County's sanctuary policy is a vote for the protection of our country's criminal justice system, a vote for fairness, and a vote for human rights. I urge the Board of Supervisors to maintain the current policy.
Nina Randazzo is a graduate student at Stanford University and a trained rapid responder and activist with the Santa Clara County Rapid Response Network. The network was formed in 2017 and provides a hotline for reporting ICE activity and support services for undocumented families.
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