L.A. Sheriff's Department Sued for Refusing to Disclose Communications with Federal Officials on Immigration Enforcement Issues

Yesterday my office filed suit on behalf of National Day Labor Organizing Network and SEIU United Service Workers West against L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department for refusing to disclose the Department's communications with federal officials on immigration enforcement issues and on California's proposed Sanctuary State bill, SB 54.

SB 54 aims to protect the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations, separate families, or terrorize our communities. SB 54 would prohibit state and local law enforcement from using their resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes.

Sheriff McDonnell is one of the most, if not the most, politically powerful opponents of SB 54, arguing that it would “force immigration enforcement agents into our communities” and result “in the complete and total loss of trust and communication with any law enforcement agency.”  

Sheriff McDonnell has repeatedly discussed being in touch with Trump officials regarding SB 54 and immigration enforcement generally, including discussing meetings with Attorney General Jeff Session, then-Department of Homeland Secretary John Kelly, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan.

So the National Day Labor Organizing Network and SEIU United Service Workers West filed a public records act request seeking communications between the Sheriff's Department and Trump administration officials.

A similar request made to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department unveiled records reflecting Sheriff Scott Jones asking then-Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan for help fighting against SB 54 weeks before the two hosted a town hall meeting on immigration enforcement that drew hundreds of people and erupted in protests.

The L.A. Sheriff's Department stalled and did not turn over any of those communications.

Just hours after we filed suit to compel the Sheriff's Department to reveal its communications, immigrant janitors and day laborers served Sheriff McDonnell with the lawsuit at an event focusing on the Sheriff's Department's role in immigration enforcement. A video of NDLON Executive Director's statement to the Sheriff, and the immigrant workers serving McDonnell, is here: