March 23, 2021
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today its taxpayer lawsuit against the San Francisco Sheriff’s sanctuary policy uncovered that over 2,400 criminal illegal aliens were released under the department’s policy on communications with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about criminal illegal aliens in the Sheriff’s custody. (Cynthia Cerletti v. Vicki Hennessy, Sheriff (No. CGC-16-556164)). A court hearing in the court challenge is scheduled for April 5.
Judicial Watch notes in a recent court filing the Sheriff’s office’s policy, “is so effective in regulating immigration and obstructing Congress’ purposes under federal immigration law that, in over 2,401 known instances, it has never resulted in ICE taking into custody a single alien, not even aliens with significant criminal backgrounds wanted for removal.
This is the latest action in the December 2016 lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch on behalf of California taxpayer Cynthia Cerletti. The lawsuit argues that the Sheriff Department’s restrictions on communications with ICE conflict with federal immigration law and attempt to regulate immigration and are therefore invalid.
Judicial Watch’s recent filing includes expert testimony that details specific examples of egregious criminal behavior of illegal aliens that the Sheriff’s office had in custody who were released without consultation with ICE:
- A citizen of Cuba faced charges for burglary and a parole violation, with a prior burglary conviction.
- A citizen of Vietnam faced charges for robbery, battery, and assault.
- A citizen of Ethiopia was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a peace officer, receiving stolen property, a parole violation, and had prior convictions for stolen property crimes.
- A citizen of Mexico had a long list of current and prior offenses, including convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, felony assault, false imprisonment, burglary, vehicle theft, and probation violations, including one revocation of probation. This individual appeared to have been arrested at least nine times between January 2015 and March 2020.
- A citizen of Honduras was facing instant charges of burglary. His 5-page rap sheet included prior convictions on felonies such as burglary while in possession of a concealed, loaded firearm, giving false information to an officer, child endangerment, theft, domestic violence, robbery, assault, and violating a restraining order.
- Another citizen of Mexico was facing instant charges of robbery, domestic violence and assault and also was the subject of an ICE detainer and warrant of arrest after a biometric match with DHS records. The alien had three recent, separate, prior felony convictions: two for auto theft and one for burglary, which had occurred over a 15-month period ending two and one-half years prior to the instant offense.
- A citizen of Ukraine was arrested and held to answer for a felony burglary charge, along with false imprisonment, receiving stolen property, threatening an officer, and a firearms charge. Two years prior, he was convicted on a robbery charge, among other offense.
- Another citizen of Mexico was held to answer on felony burglary charges, false imprisonment, and adult kidnapping charges. The alien had prior burglary convictions, one occurring one year prior to the instant charge, and another occurring four years prior, for which he was sentenced to 364 days plus probation.
- A citizen of Cambodia was facing instant charges for assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and a loaded firearm violation.
In December 2017, the Superior Court of California, San Francisco County overruled the San Francisco Sheriff Department’s move to dismiss this lawsuit.
In rejecting the Sheriff’s attempt to end the lawsuit, presiding Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn wrote there is “sufficient support at this stage of the case for Cerletti’s allegation that the Sheriff’s policy prohibiting or restricting release information about suspected priority aliens stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of Congress’ asserted purpose of enabling federal immigration officials to gain access to inmates who may have violated federal immigration laws.”
“Judicial Watch’s taxpayer lawsuit shows that the San Francisco Sheriff’s sanctuary policy is not only unlawful but is a clear and present danger to the public safety,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.